A high school administrator in Westchester who was implicated in a grade-fixing scheme has been fired, officials announced on Tuesday.
Shadia Alvarez, who allegedly changed more than 200 grades for dozens of New Rochelle students, saw her position terminated this week, the Board of Education announced. She will remain on administrative leave until her final day on Friday, Feb. 8.
In a report released last year, T&M Protection Resources, who led the investigation into the alleged grade-fixing, found that the New Rochelle High School Apex Coordinator “entered new student grades and changed existing student grades in violation of the high school’s grade change practice and without any consistent, comprehensible or valid explanation.”
T&M also found evidence the coordinator, who was a house principal, entered more than 200 individual grades for 32 students in 40 courses into the Apex online computer system “without apparent associated student work and changed multiple students’ grades from one numerical score to another.”
“(The) Board of Education pass a resolution terminating the employee’s probationary period and that the District thereafter provide at least thirty days’ written notice of the effective date of termination,” Board President Jeffrey Hastie said in a statement.
The altered grades were made for both students who had graduated and who were scheduled to graduate in 2018. Of the 32 students, two received diplomas last June that they would not have qualified for without the grade changes, which gave them the needed credits.
T&M also reported that, prior to the 2017-2018 academic year, “it was the widespread practice at NRHS to inadvertently grant full credit for students in certain units of Apex online coursework without regard to, or review of, the quality of the work.”
According to the school district, the Board of Education has been advised by interim Superintendent Magda Parvey that she has initiated the statutorily mandated process to terminate the coordinator’s probationary period. That notice was approved, and the Board acted on the recommendation at its Jan. 8 school board meeting.
“We will not tolerate anything that compromises the honesty and integrity of the grading of students in this District,” Parvey said. “Our teachers and administrators are devoted to our students, and one of the most important obligations they have is to give the students the grades they have fairly earned. We will take every measure necessary to see that is done.”
T&M identified a lack of record retention, procedures relating to the entering of new scores or executing grade changes, and general understanding regarding the use of the Apex online learning system, the Board noted. It also reported “an absence of supervision of the teachers and administrators who were responsible for enrolling, assisting and grading students taking Apex online courses.”
In response, the school district will be implementing stiffer procedures and oversights involving the program. Multiple educators will now be tasked with the student approval process for an online course and there will be new training regiments put into place.
“The administration has put these new practices in place in time for this year’s online recovery courses,” Hastie said. “We will accept nothing less than 100 percent compliance with our grading policies and practices. That is a message we are sending very clearly to everyone in this District, and it is our vow to the New Rochelle community.”
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