Writing in today’s Worcester Telegram, Brian Lee reports that, “Last year, dozens of juniors at the [Southbridge] middle-high school were not afforded their mandated right to twice retake the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems.”
In a piece titled 38 Southbridge students missed chance to retake MCAS, Lee posed questions to Superintendent Patricia Gardner and former Southbridge Middle High School Principal Amy Allen-Magnan.
Gardner remarked on Tuesday night that “the oversight was due to ‘a principal working in our schools’ who had signed off that everything was done properly…’.nobody was watching, but in this case, people weren't honest’.”
The article goes on to say:
Amy Allen-Magnan was principal of the middle-high school for most of last year. In February she went on sick leave until the end of the year and now works as the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment in the Northbridge public schools.
Ms. Gardner was asked if she was pointing blame at Ms. Allen-Magnan.
"I'm trying to be diplomatic," Ms. Gardner said. "It happened last school year."
Reached for comment, Ms. Allen-Magnan said she had seen footage of the Southbridge meeting, and that any references made during the meeting "to prior administration signing off on things that shouldn't have been signed, or any other dereliction of duties that may have been directed personally toward me or my administration, are false," as were other comments and references made Tuesday.
"These innuendos and potential defamation of character are unprofessional and lack propriety in a district where morale is already low," Ms. Allen-Magnan said in an email.
Ms. Gardner said, "Like I said (Tuesday), we have a group of new administrators. That didn't happen on my watch, and hopefully it won't happen on my watch. But I'm going to tell the truth about things."
In the end we are left with a case of she said/she said. Ms. Gardner stops short of naming Allen-Magnan while the former principal denies the incident had anything to do with her.
Signing off on the MCAS testing procedure was not something a superintendent necessarily reviewed, Ms. Gardner noted in the article. However, as she also notes, she was not the superintendent at the time. In fact she was the district’s director of teaching and learning.
Asked if there was any chance that students who were not retested might not graduate, Gardner replied "No, there is not."
However, she went on to observe that if the student scores less than 220, they will have to do a second retake in spring, for which the results will not be back in time for the June graduation. "That's the not-so-good part of it," Ms. Gardner said. "That's why you really want them to have the opportunity as juniors to have the two chances, and to possibly score high enough to get into the EPP program."
The bottom line is that we still do not know who is responsible for this fiasco. What we have is an ongoing cover up; at this point that cover up includes the superintendent, the former superintendent and the school committee members on-board at the time. If Gardner is blaming Allen-Magnan let her say so. If there is someone else, let her name them. And let whoever is named respond.
This cannot be let go, forgotten or excused. I cannot find any case of such an oversight ever having happened before anywhere. It is not enough to pledge that it will never happen again. We have to know how it happened at all, who was responsible and see to it that they are properly dealt with.
The students and the public have paid enough for this incompetence. It is beyond the time for it to end.