MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just a few years ago, the city of Atlanta was rocked by an unprecedented academic cheating scandal in its public schools. Scores of teachers and administrators were involved in a scheme to inflate the state test scores of students from low performing schools. Eleven educators were eventually convicted of criminal racketeering and prison sentences ranged from one to six years, marking the lowest moment ever for Atlanta Public Schools.
Closer to home, no one is suggesting that the grading scandal that has now come to light in Shelby County Schools is equivalent to Atlanta.
And yet, it may be reaching the criminal stage.
School Superintendent Dorsey Hopson told News Channel 3 he is absolutely livid over the scandal - first uncovered at Trezevant High School - and may now include up to nine other schools. Hopson also told The Commercial Appeal that the district might ask for a criminal investigation. He said a list of those involved in changing failing grades to passing grades on report cards will be compiled and likely turned over to the District Attorney's office.
The cheating at Trezevant involved some 53 students - many of them football players. And some students received diplomas when they didn`t earn them.
Hopson is justified in being angry, but that`s not enough. The district has an obligation to determine how widespread the cheating was, and if that results in criminal charges, so be it.