Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

SOMSD to Hire Consultant to Review CHS Credit Recovery & Grading Policy and Procedures

Concerns about credit recovery and grading policy and procedures at Columbia High School have reached the point where the South Orange-Maplewood School District is looking to hire an outside consultant to review the situation.

Proposals for an “Attendance & Grading Audit-High School” are due at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10 (see the Request for Proposals below).

Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Ficarra announced the move to seek outside help at the June 14 Board of Education meeting.

Ficarra said that, after “questions regarding grading and credit recovery at the high school” were brought to his attention, his  “initial reaction to that was that we would look into it.” (See an explanation of credit recovery attached below.)

Ficarra noted that he is an interim superintendent and that “we have an interim assistant superintendent [of curriculum and instruction Dr. Donna Rando] and an interim guidance counselor [Scott White], so none of us had any reason to cover up or look the other way on a potential grading problem.”

The superintendent said that he first asked Rando and White “to look into some of the allegations. And on first blush there’s absolutely no connection between what we found and  what’s going on at New Rochelle, reportedly or allegedly.” Ficarra was referring to a situation in the New Rochelle school district where a probe has been launched into the high school’s online credit recovery program. The New Rochelle superintendent Brian Osborne was previously superintendent of SOMSD. Osborne left SOMSD in 2014 and recently announced that he would be leaving New Rochelle next year for personal reasons. (Read more about the situation in New Rochelle here.)

Meanwhile, Ficarra reported that Rando and White’s initial investigation turned up “a number of inconsistencies and a lack of clarity in the policies and procedures to the extent that this morning Scott and Donna both advised me that they thought it was too much to look into by themselves as they have full time jobs — developing the high school schedule for the next year is one small item.”

“We are going to put out an RFP which is a request for proposals for an audit of the policies and procedures at CHS,” said Ficarra. The outside consultant will “do a thorough audit and make recommendations.”

Ficarra concluded: “We want to start the school year with clear policies and procedures and look into any possible irregularities that may have occurred.”

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