BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An academic records audit of East Baton Rouge schools found some concerns that State Superintendent of Education, John White, wants corrected. Issues like six Glen Oaks students who received diplomas as part of the 2013 class, but should not have graduated. Eleven others in that same class received the wrong diploma.
The audit, conducted by the Louisiana Department of Education, concentrated on academic and graduation records was released Sunday. Monday morning, East Baton Rouge Superintendent Bernard Taylor responded to the findings.
"It is not a failure of the system in terms of policies and procedures, errors and mistakes were made," Taylor said.
Taylor says the audit was conducted because in May 2013, a student at Glen Oaks was approved for graduation, but the student's transcript shows they didn't have enough credits. It was that report and cause for concern from a whistle blower who collected two years of alleged problems and school district policies not being followed.
The report points out that changes were made to the academic records for the student in question after the state announced it would be conducting an audit. The report also says one staff member was told to delete emails concerning the student.
John White also weighed in, in a letter summarizing the audit to the president of the school board in EBR. In that letter he writes, "The procedures undertaken as part of this audit were common practices, but the severity and breadth of the findings are uncommon and, in many cases, troubling."
The report also looked at data kept by the system's data manager. That person makes changes to student records, as instructed. When the state department questioned how she knew those changes were legitimate, the report reads, "She indicated that she trusted her gut and put her faith in God."
While Taylor accepts some responsibility for what's in the report, he says some others should shoulder some of the blame.
"Some of them predate my tenure, so of course I can't take responsibility for something that happened long before I got here," Taylor said.
He added that he isn't sure the problems are as big as the auditors say they are.
"Before we jump to conclusions and automatically assume that what they have presented is correct, we need to make sure they know their own regulations," said Taylor.
He says this is the first time the state has done this type of audit on a school system, but hopes every district will face this same questioning.
Bottom line he says, when dealing with as many students, grades and more as they do, mistakes happen.