SCS demotes principal accused of grade tampering

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Despite the superintendent saying he would terminate anyone who improperly changed grades for students, a former principal remains employed with Shelby County Schools.

Former Hamilton High School principal Monekea Smith stands accused of being part of the ongoing grade-changing scandal at SCS.

According to school board documents, Smith's login was used by a teacher at Hamilton High to change failing grades to passing grades at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

The school board levied violations against her including "conduct unbecoming of a member of the teaching position" and "neglect of duty."

"It is something that a lot of people do, and shouldn't be a surprising. I didn't think she should be anybody scapegoat," former Hamilton High School teacher Michael Pleasants said.

Back in June, Pleasants spoke with WMC Action News 5 about the complaint he filed with the district concerning grade tampering.

He said Smith put pressure on him to change students grades.

Following his allegations and others at Trezevant High School, they investigated grade changing across the district.

The agency investigating the claims found widespread grade changing at eight high schools across the district.

"It's that she was put in that circumstance just like I was, just like hundreds of teachers, principals, that's what we need to be focused on," Pleasants said.

He commends the grade floor moratorium and the recent action by SCS, but said it is going to take more to fix the widespread issue of grade changing.

"Put a little pressure on their students, raise their expectations, tell them you need to do these things to be successful," Pleasants said.

Smith was recommended for a demotion to a teaching position, according to Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.

That's a change in stance from the district's previous policy. In December, Hopson said in a statement, "Any instances where we find that there are people who have improperly changed grades or instructed people to improperly change grades, they will be terminated."

Earlier this month, Hamilton High students staged a walkout to protest Smith's suspension.

The charges appear to be the first case of a principal being disciplined in the ongoing SCS investigation into improper grade changes.

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