EBR school board calls for own audit into falsified graduation records
Baton Rouge, LA (FOX44) — The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is fighting back against the state and its critics.
It does not believe the results of a recent state audit, which claimed it gave out diplomas that were not earned, that grades were forged, that central staff members deleted emails acknowledging mistakes, and that dropouts were not counted properly.
Several politicians and bureaucrats attended Thursday's board meeting to voice their support for the district and discredit the state audit.
"There is no meat on this skeleton," stated former BESE member Linda Johnson.
"We feel very strongly that these allegations, allegations, allegations, and I say that another time, allegations, have not yet been proven," agreed State Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge).
Smith claimed that the audit was the most extensive in Louisiana Department of Education history. But the school board voted to hire an outside firm to conduct an audit of its own.
"It's either going to say what happened, happened, or it's going to say that it didn't, or somewhere in between," said board president David Tatman. "But to me, and the reason I put this on [the agenda] and I think it's so important, is because what we really need to do is protect the integrity of our kids' grades."
There has been no indication that Superintendent Bernard Taylor had anything to do with the alleged falsification of student's grades and attempt to cover it up. State Rep. Alfred Williams (D-Baton Rouge) argued that EBRPSS is the victim of a conspiracy.
"There is an effort among others to attack the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, to close it down and give it to other folks," Williams said. "I believe that, and hopefully some of you as board members begin to believe that."
Leaders of the committee to incorporate the city of St. George called on their supporters to attend the board meeting, to ask questions about the audit and show their displeasure with the state of the school system, but none did. The only community members who approached the microphone stood behind the district.
"If they would only let the superintendent do his job, and stop pointing fingers, he surely will turn this system around," Laura Washington said.
The school board said it has no idea how much its audit will cost. Domoine Rutledge, the attorney for the school board, called the board's current situation uncharted territory.
The school system has until April 4 to submit a corrective action plan based of the findings of the state audit.
To read the state audit, click the attachment below.