New details are emerging about a grade scam in Pinellas County we first told you about last week.
Now we're learning some of those students barely showed up for school.
Clearwater High School issued nearly 1,100 credits towards graduation through the GradPoint credit recovery program last year, more than any other school in the district.
675 of those credits came in the second semester, nearly double the number at the next closest traditional school in Pinellas County.
It was the only traditional school in the district where school officials say fictitious accounts and scores were created by someone who used a teacher's login information.
he school says it was impossible to determine who was responsible, because multiple people used the same information.
he district says nobody has been disciplined in connection with the failure to use best practices (recommended by the vendor) in implementing GradPoint within the schools.
We’ve learned some of those credits went to students who were chronically absent.
Records we obtained show students enrolled in as many as five GradPoint credit recovery classes last year.
The students earned the same score… an “80”… on each one, the minimum score needed to obtain credit through GradPoint.
“I know personally some kids that had to take at least three classes a day to graduate,” said Clearwater High School student Alexis Fernand.
“They know that that's an option that they have and they kind of laugh about it,” said a Pinellas County High School teacher who asked not to be named. “Well, if I fail my course, I know I can just get into GradPoint and graduate.”
Gradpoint credits are earned through a computer-based program.
They are intended to help students who has previously failed classes graduate.
“They may not have passed the course for a variety of reasons,” said Pinellas County Schools spokesperson Lisa Wolf. “A large number of absences due to illnesses or other factors. perhaps they didn't submit their homework, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't have mastery of the skill.”
Teachers say student absences are one of the main reasons students turn to GradPoint.
Records obtained by the I-Team show students missed 43, 56, 119 and even 161 days of school, yet remained enrolled.
“We find them at graduation and are shocked,” said the teacher.
“We don't want to penalize them for either needing to be absent from the district for medical issues, personal issues, or perhaps they're just not ready to complete their coursework at that time,” said Wolf.
Most absences were listed as unexcused in the records we obtained.
At Clearwater High School, where the district says GradPoint scores were invalidated last year because accounts and scores were falsified, Principal Keith Mastorides said in an email obtained by the I-Team, "There was an attendance computer issue that was not calculating absences correctly last year."
The district says GradPoint irregularities were discovered and discussed during a meeting five days after graduation last year, but the district says no degrees were invalidated.
If you have information about the GradPoint program or student absences that you’d like to share with the I-Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org