BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The state has officially launched an investigation into the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. It comes after allegations of graduation record discrepancies. The school system's superintendent says he is baffled by the allegations.
"You don't know what to fix because you don't know to what degree it's true. I don't even know what school we're talking about," said EBRSS Superintendent Bernard Taylor.
Superintendent Taylor also says the first time he ever heard of any allegations of cheating or wrongdoing within EBR schools was Wednesday – the same day the news made headlines.
"The state superintendent called me yesterday at 3:48pm to tell me that information had leaked about an isolated situation that involved one student," said Superintendent Taylor.
According to nola.com, a whistle blower documented two years worth of alleged oversight and school district policies that were not followed. In one example, a student getting a diploma despite being caught cheating. It's why State Superintendent John White sent a letter to Taylor Thursday stating:
Dear Superintendent Taylor:
The Louisiana Department of Education recently received detailed complaints of discrepancies among student graduation records within the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. We take such complaints seriously and plan to commence immediately an audit of the relevant records from the East Baton Rouge Parish School System for school years ending between 2010 and 2013.
The audit will necessitate that all relevant electronic and hard copy records be made available to Department staff. It will also be necessary that East Baton Rouge Parish school and district administrators make themselves available for discussion with Department staff, as requested.
Please have the appropriate administrator contact Stephen Osborn, Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs, … by close of business, Friday, January 10, to schedule an entrance conference.
John C. White
State Superintendent of Education.
White refused an on camera interview. Taylor has been EBR Superintendent for the past year and a half.
"I knew of the one incident because that happened in April and we investigated that. We self reported that so I knew of that. This other stuff, I heard of it yesterday," said Superintendent Taylor.
Taylor says any time any school within EBR has issues with cheating, plagiarism or simply any irregularity during test taking, they themselves report it to the State Department of Education.
As for other allegations with online courses, such as a student being allowed to use Google to search for answers and teachers not monitoring the online testing, Taylor says those issues should have been brought to a principal or his attention, not the state or media.
"Show me where they have a letter or emails or text to the principal where they said hey this is a problem and nothing was done," said Taylor.
It he had an issue come across his table, Taylor promises it would have been addressed.