MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A former student in Shelby County Schools is speaking out amid a district grade rigging scandal about how he believes the district “failed us all” by selling them short.
Several former educators in Shelby County Schools recently told Fox 13 about how they routinely fudged grades for student athletes and others to ensure they passed under pressure from school administrators.
Diane Chatman, an English teacher at White Station High School, said she rigged grades “all the time.”
“As a teacher, most of my football boys never did any work the first nine weeks,” said Chatman, who worked in the district for 30 years. “So I had to spend a lot of time fudging grades because I didn’t want to get called into the office for having too many failures.”
Former Trezevant High School Principal Ronnie Mackin outlined similar activities in a resignation letter last week that alleges Shelby County Schools “promotes dishonesty, fraud and misrepresentations of academic progress in order to promote athletic success,” according to the news site.
This week, 2012 Frayser High School graduate Jermarcus Edwards explained to Fox 13 exactly how the cheating impacted his life, and those of his classmates.
“In 2012 I graduated and me and a couple of guys was on our way to college,” he said. “We went and did the summer program, passed it by the grace of God.
“By December we were all at home, working temp jobs. We wasn’t college ready.”
Edwards blames the school district for not engaging students or holding them accountable.
“I feel like the system failed us all. We went to school every day, but being taught, it was hard for the teachers, I don’t know, but we just wasn’t getting taught in class,” he said.
“I feel like the system failed us. We all home, some in jail, some passed away. I got a friend who I went to school with who had almost a $1 million scholarship. That was amazing to the people who was at the graduation, in the crowd, but knowing deep down … we didn’t work hard for that. …
“He got killed on the Memphis city streets and he should have been in school,” Edwards said, adding that many of the city’s problems stem from its failing school district.
“It goes from crime to everything, it falls on education,” he said. “If you don’t have an education, what else are you going to fall on? People in the streets are just killing, stealing, cause they don’t have an education. If they had an education, they would be doing something different with their life.”
Edwards confirmed to Fox 13 that he personally benefited from the grade changing for student athletes when he attended Frayser High School.
“My grades got changed,” he said. “I’m going to be straight forward, it’s 2017 now. There was times my dad came to school calling the class I was supposed to be in. But I wasn’t there. I was in the gym having fun, but the teacher would walk out for half the class period.
“I passed with a 3.0 grade point average,” Edwards said, “but I didn’t do the work for it.”