Grade tampering isn’t the only concern being investigated in Shelby County Schools in the aftermath of this month’s fiery resignation letter from a Memphis principal.
While false academic reports are at the center of a review initiated in consultation with state education officials, allegations of workplace harassment, racial discrimination and bribes also are listed in the seven-page letter by former Trezevant High School Principal Ronnie Mackin.
Now, the district has secured a three-member investigative team to look into those matters. They include some big names with high standing in the legal community — a move that points to the seriousness with which district officials are taking the allegations.
During this week’s special called school board meeting, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the outside team is necessary to “make sure (the investigation) was impartial.”
The newest probe was announced by Rodney Moore, the district’s general counsel who was briefly mentioned in Mackin’s letter. The outgoing principal wrote that, as part of an internal review, Moore met last fall with students whom the former head football coach had allegedly paid to attend the high school with the assurance that someone would “take care of the grades.”
Welcome to Chalkbeat
Chalkbeat is an independent nonprofit news organization telling the story of education in America. Learn more.
Education news. In your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter
Here are the special investigators and what each will look into. You can click on the highlighted words to read excerpts of allegations from Mackin’s letter:
Edward Stanton III, a lawyer with Butler Snow and former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee — generalized allegations, such as improper conduct, cover-up of transcript changes and “maltreatment.”
Scott Newton, a lawyer with Baker Donelson and former FBI agent — allegation that school board members and district leaders received kickbacks from GCA Services Group, which until recently had a district contract for janitorial services.
Paul Lancaster Adams, a nationally recognized labor and employment lawyer based in Philadelphia with Ogletree Deakins —allegations of improper sexual advances and racial discrimination.