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Audit threatens accreditation status of Lexington Two high school

Investigation found some students were given diplomas without fulfilling requirements for graduation

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Documents released by the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) detail the audit of student transcripts at Lexington School District Two high schools, which led the agency to lower the accreditation of Brookland-Cayce High School.

The audit was triggered after a request for a diploma from BCHS's guidance office was sent to SCDE. In a letter dated October 8, 2021, Angel Malone, director of the Office of Career and Technical Education & Student Transition Services at SCDE, wrote of confusion over a student's graduation date which led to a review of the student's transcript. 

The review found the student had failed four of the classes required for graduation during the 2020-21 school year -- earning a zero in economics, a 28 in U.S. history and constitution, a 50 in government, and a 25 in probability and statistics -- yet the BCHS principal "determined that the student completed enough work in each initial credit course for him to deem her eligible for credit recovery." 

Policy states that "a student must score a minimum grade of fifty-one in the initial credit class to be eligible for participation in the credit recovery program." Malone writes, "However, the policy also states that the student must achieve sufficient mastery to benefit from the credit recovery program. It is highly unlikely this was possible, especially with the aforementioned final grades."

BCHS was also found to be in violation of Lexington School District Two's credit recovery policy, the S.C. Uniform Grading Policy, and two other regulations in granting this student a South Carolina High School diploma. 

As a result, SCDE reviewed a random sampling of all of Lexington District Two's senior transcripts for the 2020-21 school year and a preliminary review of the graduating class of 2022. During the audit, the school district was cautioned to refrain from ordering diplomas until the audit was complete and a summary report was sent to the district superintendent.

The audit of student transcripts cited 28 violations at BCHS and six violations at Airport High School (AHS). Some of the violations at BCHS included:

  • a student taking English III before English II
  • a student taking the year-long physical education class twice in the same year, failing one class and passing another, prompting the remark from the auditor: "How is it possible to take two initial credit courses twice in one year if the classes are year-long?"
  • a student taking health science I and III but not II.
  • total credits attempted and earned being incorrect on some transcripts.
  • a student passing a class but then taking credit recovery (CR) for the same class. CR courses are for students that fail the class the first time and retake the class to gain credit for the course.
  • some students taking a course five times before passing it. The audit asked what interventions or content recovery were being used to help these students.
  • the BCHS principal verifying the 2022 spring graduate list without first confirming that every student met the requirements for graduation. Students who did not meet the requirements were removed from the diploma order tracking system.

Violations at AHS included:

  • a student taking a course and passing it and repeating the same course.
  • incorrect course codes recorded
  • a student taking foundations in algebra and passing, then took intermediate algebra and failing - yet getting core math credit. The audit said, regarding this case, "a student cannot get a core math credit if the student does not repeat intermediate algebra and is placed into algebra I or algebra II."

As a result of the findings, both Brookland-Cayce had its accreditation status lowered to "advised." Airport High's is currently unaffected, but the agency said they're still reviewing external audit files. 

To regain full accreditation, BCHS must:

  • Supply the Office of Student Transition Services end-of-year transcripts for all students beginning with spring 2022 graduates through 9th grade and Summer 2021-22 graduates. A random sample of those transcripts will be audited.
  • abide by the district's uniform grading policy, defined minimum program for grades 9-12, attendance, transfers and withdrawals policies, and credit recovery policy. The report states, "If a student takes a credit recovery class with a failing grade of 50 or below, provide an explanation of extenuating circumstances, the administrator who approved it, the failing grade, the attendance in the initial credit class, and the Edgenuity logs."
  • attend training by SCDE: Administrators at both high schools and middle schools, the district Director of Counseling, district Accreditation and Monitoring administrator for State programs, district PowerSchool administrator, the Director of Counseling from each middle and high school, and any high school registrars and counselors who did not attend the training this past March will attend training this summer.
  • Have a committee of each high school’s choosing audit all transcripts, grades 9 through 12, using an audit checklist.

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