- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

The principal of a Montgomery County high school blamed a computer glitch and teacher error for a progress report giving high grades to a ninth-grade student who never attended.

Lauren Lee, 14, of Olney, who attends a private Catholic school in Maryland, received a report card from Sherwood High School in the mail last month indicating that she had received A’s in geometry and physical education.

School officials are embarrassed by the incident and say the county’s Office of School Performance is investigating.

The inquiry began after The Washington Times reported last week that officials at Sherwood High at 300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road had sent Lauren a progress report giving her mostly high marks in classes at the school, although she never attended.

Preliminary findings by school officials blamed “inadvertent errors” by two teachers and “enrollment record keeping errors.”

Sherwood High School Principal James E. Fish cited both factors in a Nov. 14 letter to parents, students and staff. He said Lauren’s name was never removed from the school’s enrollment lists.

Lauren had attended Rosa M. Parks Middle School at 9200 Olney Mill Road for two years before becoming a ninth-grader at Good Counsel High School at 11601 Georgia Ave. in Wheaton. Graduates of Parks Middle School usually go on to Sherwood High School, unless they leave the area or enroll in private schools.

Lauren’s mother told school officials last year she was sending her daughter to Good Counsel, but Lauren’s academic records were sent to Sherwood instead. Lauren’s name remained on a computerized list of Sherwood students slated to receive progress reports.

On her progress report, two teachers gave her A’s in geometry and physical education. Other teachers gave Lauren an “NC,” or no credit, in art, and an “E,” or incomplete, in physics.

“The mistakes occurred when interim progress reports were produced at the end of September,” Mr. Fish said. “The student’s name was not removed from all of our enrollment data lists. … As a result, her name appeared on an electronic grading list.”

Exactly why two teachers gave Lauren A’s even though they knew she had not attended classes remains under investigation by the Office of School Performance, school officials said. It was not clear yesterday whether either teacher faced sanctions.

“Although both teachers knew that the student was not in their classes, mistakes were made in the transfer of grades,” Mr. Fish said.

He said school officials would record grades more carefully in the future.

“I want to assure you that we view this incident as very serious,” he said in the letter sent Friday.

“We will take steps to improve and safeguard the record keeping practices involved in the management of our enrollment and grading information.”

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