The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools said he and the school board violated state law when they discussed a grade-changing policy at a board meeting Monday night.
The board discussed the policy at the end of the meeting after the issue had been pulled off the agenda.
“It was an indirect violation of the Open Meeting Act,” Superintendent Karl Springer said. “I've never done that before, and I can never let it happen again.”
At issue is an informal policy in Oklahoma City Public Schools that allowed teachers and administrators to change a student's grade in certain classes.
If a student failed a class, his grade could be changed from an F to a D if he passed a corresponding end-of-instruction exam. Oklahoma high school students must pass at least four of seven EOI exams to receive a diploma.
In some cases, the teachers didn't know grades had been changed.
Springer said the practice has been banned this year while a formal policy is created.
A presentation outlining the proposed grading policy was pulled from the agenda. Media outlets were notified Monday afternoon that the issue would be skipped.
The discussion came up during the board comments period of the meeting, which happens after executive session. Most people attending the meeting had left, including the district's attorney.
“I didn't shut it down, and I should have,” Springer said.
District 1 Board Member Bob Hammack brought up the issue. He said he opposed the policy.
“I think that's a terrible idea that we're going to encourage kids to not turn in homework because at the end of the year it will be whatever they do on the test,” he said. “I know it was shelved tonight, but I think it's something that would be a black eye if we ever made public what we intend to do.”
Several other board members shared thoughts and asked questions. Springer responded, saying the goal is to empower teachers to have a justifiable reason to give course credit if they so choose.
District 5 Board Member Ruth Veales said the idea is a slippery slope.
“You're really opening a Pandora's box,” she said.
No vote was taken.
Policies are local
Grading practices are decided by local district officials, according to the state Education Department. Some school districts have policies that require an automatic grade switch. Others have discussed the idea but haven't made formal policies.
In Oklahoma City Public Schools, any grade-changing by administrators is inappropriate, said Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers.
Allen discussed the grade-change policy during the public comments section of the Monday night meeting, which is toward the beginning of the agenda.
“It's not complicated,” he said. “Students deserve the grade they earn in class. I'm afraid that our district is painting a picture to our general public, to our patrons, that our district is essentially one big grading scam.”
Allen told the board that the union contract with the district forbids grade changes by anyone except teachers unless there is a miscalculation or the teacher cannot provide evidence that the grade was earned.