Curry High students impacted by "inexcusable" error

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 4/30/19

CURRY — The lives of 21 Curry High School seniors have been shaken, in what is being called by the county school superintendent an "inexcusable" error.In late March or early April, first-year Curry …

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Curry High students impacted by "inexcusable" error

Posted

CURRY — The lives of 21 Curry High School seniors have been shaken, in what is being called by the county school superintendent an "inexcusable" error.

In late March or early April, first-year Curry High Principal Eric Woodley discovered some of the school's seniors did not have enough credits to graduate high school. He reported the information to the Walker County Board of Education's central office, and Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said Monday the issue was immediately reported to the Alabama State Department of Education and a Corrective Action Plan was put in place.

Hagood explained none of the school's seniors are behind on their core classes; however, some students are a few credits short in what he refers to as "and/or" courses, such as fine arts or foreign language.

"This is totally inexcusable, because you don't start becoming a graduate your senior year," Hagood said. "That's a process you start from the day you enter the door as a freshman."

Hagood describes the seniors impacted as high achieving students. Many have been dual enrolled with Bevill State Community College and have had high academic testing scores. 

The lack of oversight has continued for years at Curry High, and Hagood said the school's counselor was responsible for monitoring the transcripts, as well as the principal.

Prior to Woodley becoming principal in July 2018, Rod Aaron served as the school's principal. Aaron has been in the role of director at the Walker County Board of Education's 180 alternative school and Hope Academy and Twilight Knight School since May 2018.    

It is unknown who has been serving as Curry High's counselor. 

"Part of the counselor's role is to make sure these transcripts audits are performed, and then the principal's responsibility is to come back and hold them accountable and make sure that it was done," Hagood said. "Thank goodness that a first-year principal there at that school caught it."

Hagood added, "This is something that was perpetuated from the previous administration and allowed. There should have been transcript audits done."

The superintendent reflected on his prior years as a principal and said common practice is to check transcripts multiple times for seniors to make sure they are on track to receive their diploma.   

At the direction of the state Department of Education, the seniors impacted by the transcript oversight are using curriculum software to catch up on their necessary credits to graduate on May 24. Hagood said they have been given 12 courses to choose from and using any extra time they may have at school to complete the coursework. 

"There's work to be done, but they should graduate," Hagood said.

He said the actions that greatly impacted the students in question will not be ignored. The Department of Education is performing an audit to determine if former graduates had transcript errors as well.

"We are working with the state department now in consideration for personnel changes," he said. "It's unfortunate. It's inexcusable, and I can assure you that we are going to take every measure necessary to make sure it does not happen again."

The transcript incident is isolated to Curry High School, Hagood said.

There was a meeting held at Curry High Monday night for parents to speak to school officials about what has transpired.   

"I would be upset, and I would want answers too," Hagood said.