Spring ISD addresses transcript and testing investigation at community meeting

Rodney Watson

Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson (via Courtesy Spring ISD)

A week after the district announced results of an internal investigation had revealed irregularities in the transcripts of hundreds of Spring ISD high school students, frustrated parents and students heard from SISD Superintendent Rodney Watson.

“When we look at some of the practices that have been done, they have not only failed kids, which is most important, but they also failed you all as parents,” Watson said. “I am frustrated and angry.”

Watson spoke at a meeting with parents and high school seniors Feb. 16 at Dekaney High School. The meeting was called to address the transcript irregularities that could potentially affect approximately 600 students, including seniors scrambling to meet mandated graduation requirements.

“The fact that some of the adults here knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated negligent practices that have caused us to end up in this situation today frustrates me.”
– Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson

A district investigation was launched in January in response to a report from the Texas Education Agency documenting anomalies in testing. The investigation led to an extensive review of all the district’s high school transcripts, Watson said.

In addition to transcripts containing incorrectly credited courses, district officials found negligent records mismanagement at Dekaney High School, Watson said. Folders containing critical student information were found separated from the students’ folders, critical test results were missing and important legal and personal documents were found on the floor.

“The fact that some of the adults here knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated negligent practices that have caused us to end up in this situation today frustrates me,” said Watson, who assured the parents in attendance the district would do everything possible to advise students moving forward.

Watson, who was appointed as superintendent of the district in July by its board of trustees, said the administration just learned about the issues in December and immediately took action to notify parents.

Parents at the meeting voiced concern over a multitude of issues including the possibility of grade point average recalculations affecting students’ class rankings and college admission standings, the inaccessibility of guidance counselors during the school year and an overall lack of accountability.

Watson said the district’s counselors are working with students and parents to make them aware of options available to them including extra support from academic programs, online courses offered through the district’s virtual school program and completing credits by examinations.

In regards to GPA and class rankings, Watson said the district would continue to work with parents and students to fully understand what courses the students have received credit for and which they still need to take. He said the district is working on a report addressing the GPA validations to be released by March 23.

The TEA will provide support in the evaluation of transcripts and help train SISD counselors in accordance with best practices, Watson said. He also encouraged parents to meet with counselors from district schools immediately following the meeting.

Some parents said they were angry over missed scholarship opportunities. Some awards available on a first come first served basis were revoked because transcripts failed to reflect accurate graduation information for students.

Tammi Humphrey, a former second grade teacher and former candidate for the SISD board of trustees in 2013 and 2014, said teachers in the district often did not have the proper materials to educate students and faced challenges in learning environments where disciplinary issues were common. Humphrey praised Watson for instituting new leadership at the various district schools.

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Ariel Carmona Jr. received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and an M.A. in Communications from California State University Fullerton. Ariel has written for the O.C. Register, L.A.N.G. newspapers and AOL’s Patch media. He currently works as a reporter for Spring Klein covering city and education news including Spring ISD.
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