The members of the cheating ring at George W. Carver Elementary School will not be employed by Richmond Public Schools by the start of the school year, pending School Board approval.
Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras announced the recommendation for the 10 educators, including former Principal Kiwana Yates, on Wednesday outside the school, ahead of a community meeting two days after the release of the results of a state investigation into cheating on Standards of Learning tests.
“The actions of a few adults here were so unconscionable,” Kamras said Wednesday. “What happened here is so disturbing.”
The School Board next meets Monday, but the process of removing the teachers could take weeks.
The board plans on discussing Carver personnel during the closed session part of the meeting, according to two board members.
Kamras said the administration is also recommending to the state that the 10 educators involved have their licenses revoked, a significant move that could affect their future employment in education. The superintendent declined to say whether they will be allowed to resign.
“The adults who orchestrated the systemic cheating violated a sacred trust with our students and our families,” Kamras said.
Before Wednesday, RPS had publicly been silent on the educators’ future employment statuses.
Yates remains employed by the school system, spokeswoman Kenita Bowers confirmed, but has been removed from her post as principal. All nine teachers named in the report remain listed in the school division’s directory. They have not returned requests for comment.
Asked repeatedly since Monday’s 4 p.m. release of the state report whether RPS will look to remove those involved in the cheating, school officials declined to comment, saying it is a personnel matter.
“The individuals involved in the investigation also have legal rights, and it is our practice to err on the side of caution to ensure that the school division is not held liable for divulging any compromising information while the personnel action process is underway,” Bowers said Wednesday when asked about the specific legal obligations that made the division unable to comment. “This is still considered to be a personnel matter, and there is a level of confidentiality that must be upheld with respect to the fidelity of the overall process.”
She added: “We hope that the public can appreciate that as the process continues and will trust that more details will be shared once the process has been completed.”
The school system has faced pressure from the education community to take action and be public about what it plans to do.
“I want to know that RPS is going to stand for what is right,” said Mari Valentenyi, an attendee of Wednesday’s forum and a former reading specialist for the city’s schools.
Asked after the meeting why he decided to announce the employment recommendation, Kamras said he wanted to signal accountability to the community.
“The public needs to know that there are consequences to these actions,” he said.
The school division does not plan on pressing criminal charges, Bowers said.
In one of the largest academic cheating scandals in U.S. history, 178 Atlanta Public Schools teachers and principals were found to have corrected answers entered by students. Eleven of the 12 educators who were criminally charged were convicted of racketeering.
In Virginia, the attorney general can seek a civil penalty of up to $1,000 if a teacher is found to have breached certain test administration standards, including “altering test materials or examinees’ responses in any way.”
Charlotte Gomer, a spokeswoman with the Office of the Attorney General, said her office has been in touch with the Virginia Department of Education and “will continue to work with them as they work to respond to the situation.”
She declined to elaborate on those conversations, citing attorney-client privilege.
Wednesday’s community meeting, which the school system initially tried to forbid members of the news media from covering, featured nearly 50 people voicing frustration with the situation. Parents and other community members also vowed to continue supporting the school.
“It’s a bad situation for all of us,” said Janelle Taylor, a teacher at Carver. She is not named in the report.