HISD investigating alleged grade-changing at Westbury High School

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HISD is investigating a note initialed by the principal directing a teacher to change grades of students with grades below 80 (KTRK)

HISD is investigating alleged grade-changing going on at Westbury High School.

Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, received a copy of a memo from a teacher at the high school. The note shows a list of students and their grades, several scoring below 50. A handwritten note at the bottom of the page states, "All students grades should be 80 and above. Change grade to 80 if grade is below 80." Fallon says the note is initialed by the Westbury High School principal, Jason Catchings.

"It was initialed by the principal," Fallon said. "So whether he wrote it or just initialed it, he approved it."

HISD declined an interview but sent us this statement:

"The HISD Office of Internal Audit is investigating the integrity of grades issued by a substitute teacher at Westbury High School. We cannot comment further until the investigation is complete."

Gerry Monroe runs a school watchdog group called United Urban Alumni Association. He said a Westbury teacher gave him a copy of the letter.

"I'm a parent, I gotta drop my kid off every day, with the intention or understanding that he's gonna get a quality education," Monroe said, "not just pushed through the door."

It is not clear whether or not the substitute teacher did, in fact, follow the instructions on the note and change the students' grades.

Fallon says the bigger issue is the amount of pressure some administrators place on teachers to falsify grades.

"(They'll say) 'You know, if you fail this many students, it may show that you're not doing a good job, and that will be present in your evaluation,'" Fallon said, "which is what they base their termination on."

Both Fallon and Monroe agree: The victims in this are the students.

Fallon said she instructed the teacher who received the note to file a complaint with the District Attorney's Office.
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