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TEA Withholds Complaint on Alleged DISD Grade Manipulation

Education

Andrea Whelan asks to be reinstated and given her job back at a hearing. | Image by WFAA

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The Dallas Express has learned that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is investigating at least one Dallas Independent School District (DISD) campus for attendance and grade manipulation allegations.

In response to a Public Information Request filed by The Dallas Express, the TEA opted to withhold a complaint it had received from a now-former DISD employee, as well as any other materials related to the matter.

Instead, the TEA informed us that it had requested the Office of the Attorney General of Texas to rule on whether such information could be withheld.

The agency cited Section 39.004 of the Texas Education Code as its rationale for withholding the requested documents.

The section explains, “Unless otherwise provided by law, all evidence collected by the agency in connection with a special investigation, including witness statements and videos of agency interviews, are confidential and not subject to disclosure.”

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, former DISD auditor Andrea Whelan claimed she was terminated from her job after allegedly discovering evidence that suggested administrators at W.W. Samuell High School were engaging in grade inflation, the practice of awarding higher grades than students deserve.

A subsequent grievance hearing, helmed by select DISD school board members, upheld Whelan’s termination earlier this month, as reported by The Dallas Express.

For its part, DISD has denied Whelan’s allegations, insisting that she was fired because of inadequate performance. It also claimed that the principal at Samuell High was assisting students with “credit recovery,” not awarding undeserving grades.

The campus does struggle academically, even for a historically low-performing district like DISD.

Only 31% of Samuell High students scored at grade level or above on this year’s STAAR examination, some 10 percentage points lower than the district’s unimpressive 41% average.

Samuell High also suffers from an alarming on-time graduation rate. Only two-thirds of the students in the graduating class of 2021 earned their diplomas in four years, 14% less than DISD’s average graduation rate of 81.1%.

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