East High School's principal fired after investigation

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An investigation into recent events in and around East High School is disconcerting, according to a statement released Wednesday by Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash.

Cash's first course of action: the firing of East High Principal Fred Curry.

An internal audit of the past school year calls the school's financial position "questionable".  The balancing of bank statements often came late.  Curry explained he got behind because he was having problems understanding new banking software.

Under Curry's watch, a teacher courtesy account was overdrawn by more than $1,300.  Some teachers were late submitting money collected in the school for fundraising, and  $580.86 in fundraising money was unaccounted for.

According to Curry, most of the missing money was from an old fashioned candy fundraiser, in which students failed to turn in their money or unused merchandise.

In January of 2008, the school reported 209 laptops that were missing or unaccounted for.  They were replaced in November.  Auditors found many of those laptops in unlocked areas or locked areas where students were given the combination.  In April of 2010 a student was charged with stealing 200 laptops.

In the audit, Curry was allowed to explain and suggest solutions to the problems.  But those solutions did not save his job, according to Cash, because the audit's findings indicate an apparent lack of internal controls.

An interim principal will finish out the school year, and additional Hall monitors will be added to the school.

An MCS spokesperson said all school policies will be reviewed and reworked where needed.

Statement from Memphis City School Superintendent Kriner Cash:

"During the course of the 2009-2010 school year, there were a number of disconcerting events that occurred at or near East High School. These events were of great concern for me as well as members of our Board and community. As a result, I directed The Department of Internal Audit to conduct a comprehensive audit of East High School. I also called for the Region Office to get a feel for the climate and culture of the school with staff and students.

I have made it abundantly clear that high student achievement, maximum accountability, and increased efficiency are among our primary objectives. The findings of the audit indicate that there was an apparent lack of internal controls in place at East High School.

To address these deficiencies, I ordered:

  • The principal be removed
  • An interim principal be put in place to finish the school year and assist in the transition of new leadership
  • HR post the position and for staff to recommend the best candidate to fill the position moving forward
  • After careful consideration, a new principal be appointed at East High School Chief of School Safety, Security and Emergency Management Gerald Darling conduct a security and safety assessment of the campus
  • Additional hall monitors and one MCS Security Officer be added for support
  • Regional Superintendent Kevin McCarthy and his staff to provide additional administrative supports during the transition of new leadership
  • All related policies revisited with staff
  • Internal controls be reevaluated, strengthened and all property re-inventoried

It is important that parents and community members know that the well-being, academic achievement and safety of our students are always priority one, and I will continue to hold all staff to the highest standard in educating our students."

Kriner Cash, Ed. D.
Memphis City Schools

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