Cheating scandal leads to more turnover at Carver

Ronald E. Carrington | 8/30/2018, 6 a.m.
Richmond Public Schools officials have begun the process to revoke the licenses of 10 administrators and teachers linked to a ...

Richmond Public Schools officials have begun the process to revoke the licenses of 10 administrators and teachers linked to a SOL testing cheating scandal at Carver Elementary School.

Officials told the Free Press that RPS administrators have petitioned the Virginia Department of Education to pull the licenses of 10 of the 11 people named by state investigators as improperly helping students at the Leigh Street school to pass state Standards of Learning tests last May.

RPS officials are seeking revocation of the licenses of former Carver Principal Kiwana Yates, former Vice Principal Fay Joyner and eight teachers, officials confirmed.

In early August, the Richmond School Board accepted the resignations of Ms. Yates, Ms. Joyner and teachers Evette Cartwright, Kayiesha Golds, Chireda Cotman and Betty Alexis.

The board also placed five more Carver teachers on administrative leave — Marlin Osborne, Troy Johnson, Stephanie Burgess, Nicole Lacy and Valencia Davis — and asked them to resign.

Of that group, only Ms. Lacy has resigned, with her resignation accepted by the board at its Aug. 20 meeting. The board also accepted Ms. Davis’ retirement from the school system.

However, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Burgess are appealing their pending separation, officials said.

“RPS has a process where teachers are eligible to appeal either to the superintendent or to the School Board to be reinstated,” School Board member Jonathan Young, 4th District, told the Free Press last week.

“Whomever the teachers appeal to will hear both sides and will provide a fair and objective hearing and decision on the matter,” he said.

No date has been set for their hearings.

The “administration remains confident in reaching the appropriate outcomes as part of this process,” said RPS spokeswoman Kenita Bowers.

The state investigation was launched earlier this year after “testing irregularities” were discovered at Carver, chiefly that a majority of Carver students who passed reading and math SOLs in fifth grade were unable to pass SOLs once they entered middle school.

According to the state Department of Education report, Ms. Yates gave special perks to a small group of teachers who monitored the tests and inappropriately coached or provided signals to the students so they would mark the correct answers.

At its Aug. 20 meeting, the School Board also gave Superintendent Jason Kamras authority to hire new teachers for 52 positions that are still vacant, including those at Carver.