Houston, Texas, Fox affiliate KRIV-TV recently uncovered evidence of a high school allegedly changing failing grades to passing ones, which could be illegal. An audit later conducted by the Houston Independent School district confirmed that the principal at Westbury High School was personally involved in the grade-changing scandal.
Then, when one of the news station’s reporters, Katie McCall, showed up to a public meeting this week, a police officer was waiting. The officer informed the reporter that the school district requested she be kicked out.
McCall held her ground, citing “free press” and arguing she had every right to attend the meeting that was open to the public.
"We have a free press in this country," the reporter told the cop.
McCall later posted a video of the exchange on Facebook:
HISD PD threatens to remove us from public meetingPosted by Katie McCall on Monday, May 4, 2015
McCall was never given a reason why the school district didn't want her to attend the meeting. However, despite threats that she would be removed, the reporter stayed for the meeting.
Reporter Greg Groogan reported on Tuesday that the case was being handed over to police and “jobs will be lost.” Under Texas law, falsifying grades is strictly prohibited.
It wasn't clear what consequences Westbury High School principal Jason Catchings will face. There have been calls for Catchings to be fired as principal.
The Houston Chronicle outlines the allegations:
The audit confirmed that a long-term substitute teacher at Westbury High School assigned failing grades to most students in an elective course for a recent six-week period, yet Catchings ordered the grades for 26 of 30 students changed to an 80, or a B. According to the audit, Catchings questioned the validity of the low grades — some were in the single digits — and said there was not a certified teacher assigned to the course who could confirm them.
State law says that grades issued by a classroom teacher are "final and may not be changed unless the grade is arbitrary, erroneous, or not consistent with the school district grading policy." It also says that teachers cannot be required to assign a minimum grade to a student "without regard to the student's quality of work."
Community activist Gerry Monroe reported the grade-changing allegations to HISD's internal auditor in late April, the report said. Monroe, who leads a group of concerned parents and alumni in the Houston area, had obtained a copy of a class roster that included students' grades and a handwritten note at the bottom. The note said that a school clerk had talked to Catchings and that "All students grade (sic) should be 80 and above. Change grade to 80 if grade is below 80."
The report from Chief Auditor Richard Patton's office said a copy of the audit was being forwarded to HISD's police department "to determine if any criminal implications exist." In addition to the grade-changing allegations, the class roster made public contained students' names and grades, which typically are confidential.
More from KRIV-TV: