The saga continues in Krum ISD as parents posed more questions about grading during a Wednesday night board meeting.
The Krum school board held a special meeting two weeks ago to discuss the results of an audit performed by the Region 11 Education Services Center. Auditors looked at grading systems from several years and found no glaring inconsistencies in class rankings. They did, however, note that board policy about grading scales, which determine how many points a student earns on their GPA for taking a certain class, had changed several times in the last six years.
In Wednesday’s meeting, Krum Superintendent Cody Carroll outlined eight instances in which board members voted to change or amend the district’s grading policy. From 2012 to 2016, Krum’s grading scales had gone from three levels to five, then down to four levels only to revert back to three.
Each level represents a certain weight given to a class. Advanced classes that earn students college credit are weighted higher than regular classes.
Some of the other changes to the policy included shifts in wording when the district switched from a six-week grading period to nine weeks. Others were mandates handed down from the state.
“Yes, it is very easy to understand that this has been a confusing process,” Carroll said. “But I can assure you that every decision we’ve made and every change we’ve made has been to build a fair and equitable system where every kid has an opportunity to get to the point where they can be valedictorian or salutatorian.”
At the previous meeting, board members authorized their attorney to hire a third-party law firm to further investigate claims of grade tampering by administrators at the high school to benefit students who were related to them.
Board President Eric Borchardt said a Dallas-based law firm had been hired but did not know the name of the firm at the time.
He added the investigation was underway and the district hoped to see the results by December. Some board members expressed concerns about cost and capped the investigation at $20,000.
Borchardt said he didn’t yet have an estimate on how much the inquiry would be.
“I think it’s hard to put a number on something like that,” he said. “Every interview leads to another. If [the attorney] talks to you, it could be five minutes or two hours. They’re billing us by the hour.”
Several parents said they were glad to see more transparency but still had some lingering questions. Some wondered why parents couldn’t access GPAs online. Carroll previously said this was a software issue the district was looking to resolve, but parent Nathan Pass encouraged officials to do more in the interim.
“If the software can’t do it right now, I would ask that it be a manual process,” he said. “We task somebody to go in at least every semester and add in class rank to the student report.”
Others also voiced concern about retaliation for individuals who speak out against the district. Bernard Lightfoot was recently ousted from his position as the high school assistant principal. Some say the decision had to do with inconsistencies on Lightfoot’s application that he submitted two years earlier, but supporters believe he was pushed out after bringing allegations of improper grade changing to light.
“I want to know what steps the board is taking to send a message to everyone in the community, everyone who works for the ISD, that if a student has a concern, they can bring it up without fear of retaliation,” Pass said.
“If I worked for the Krum ISD, I wouldn’t want to bring up a concern because I would feel like I might be next.”