Two Philly principals strike deal with state in cheating investigation

Posted: April 05, 2013

BARBARA McCREERY, the former principal at Bok Technical High School, handed over last month her administrative credentials to the state Department of Education in connection to cheating allegations when she was head of Communications Technology High School. Yet, McCreery continued to work as a principal, breaking the law in the process, while the district remained in the dark about her eligibility status. Schools spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district was notified Wednesday of the education department’s agreement with McCreery to take their administrative credentials “in lieu of discipline.” McCreery clocked in for another 10 days ¬– including a full week off at Spring Break -¬ at her $142,724-per-year job at Bok in South Philadelphia until Wednesday, her official last day. “When an educator no longer holds the necessary certification for a specific position, he or she has no right to hold that position and they are legally wrong if they stay in that position,” education department spokesman Timothy Eller wrote in an e-mail late Tuesday.

This story has been updated.

BARBARA McCREERY, the former principal at Bok Technical High School, handed in her administrative credentials to the state Department of Education last month in connection to cheating allegations when she was head of Communications Technology High School.

Yet, McCreery continued to work as a principal, reportedly breaking the law in the process, while the district remained in the dark about her eligibility status. Schools spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district was notified Wednesday of the education department’s agreement with McCreery to take their administrative credentials “in lieu of discipline.”

McCreery clocked in for another 10 days - including a full week off at Spring Break - at her $142,724-per-year job at Bok in South Philadelphia until Wednesday, her official last day.

“When an educator no longer holds the necessary certification for a specific position, he or she has no right to hold that position and they are legally wrong if they stay in that position,” education department spokesman Timothy Eller wrote in an e-mail late Tuesday.

Another principal also has handed over documents to the state, the state confirmed Wedensday. On March 7, Lola Marie O'Rourke, the former principal of Locke School in West Philly, also the subject of a state investigation into cheating, handed in her administrative license, supervisory certificate and letter of superintendent eligibility "in lieu of discipline," said Timothy Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

O'Rourke resigned in August from her $138,818 position at Locke after 13 years with the district.

Both women kept their teaching certificates, but will not be allowed to teach in Philadelphia, Eller said.

Communications and Locke are among 14 city schools under investigation by the Education Department and the state inspector general for alleged widespread cheating, the district said. An additional 19 schools are being investigated by the district, allegedly for less-extensive violations.

The state's investigation into the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests dates back to 2009, the Inquirer has reported.

During the 2008-09 school year, 33 percent of eighth-graders at Locke tested proficient on the PSSAs, well below the district average of 51 percent, according to district figures. After O'Rourke arrived the following year, the school's figure doubled to 67 percent.

McCreery started at Communications in 2003, and by 2008-09, the 11th-grade PSSA math score was 30 percent, about two points lower than the district average. The following year, McCreery's last one at the school, the school's score jumped to 70 percent. In 11th-grade reading, the school's score jumped 22 points to 76 percent in 2009-10.

The district's investigations of other schools are expected to be completed this week, Gallard said. Officials will release a summary of findings later this month, he said.


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

 

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