Fallout from San Marcos High grade-fixing scandal continues

San Marcos High School in San Marcos, Texas (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)
FILE - San Marcos High School in San Marcos, Texas (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Superintendent Michael Cardona said Monday he’s bringing in an Austin law firm for an independent review following a grade-fixing scandal at San Marcos High School. The law firm will interview teachers and staff as well as check student records and current systems in place.

Last month, Principal Kelli Lopez stepped down after admitting to changing grades for more than 100 students over the course of the past two school years. Shortly after that news came out, the superintendent for San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District said there were others involved in changing grades under Lopez’s leadership.

A second staff member at San Marcos High School who has already resigned was part of the investigation over a grade-fixing scandal. Cardona clarified the woman who resigned did so for personal reasons and not because of the investigation.

The principal directed administrators to change 156 end-of-course grades for 133 students.

Cardona says so far they have discovered Lopez directed administrators to change 156 end-of-course grades for 133 students in a variety of classes. In some cases students had multiple grades altered. In each case the grade was a 69, and was changed to a passing grade of 70. The student not only ended up passing the course, but they also received credit for the course which counted toward graduation.

The district has met with current students and parents impacted, and those children have been placed in credit recovery programs to ensure they properly pass the courses prior to graduation. The superintendent told KXAN the grade changing that occurred did not impact class rank, but did impact graduation rates for seniors whose grades were changed.

KXAN checked back to 2013, the year before Lopez became principal at San Marcos High School, and found the school has met state standards every year, though the graduation rate is below the state average. Lopez was reported to the Texas Education Agency and is under review by the State Board of Education discipline unit. Sanctions could be imposed, and she could ultimately lose her certifications.

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