St. George supporters blamed for cheating claims
BATON ROUGE - A group defending the East Baton Rouge Parish School System blamed supporters of the proposed city of St. George for cooking up allegations of cheating within the school system.
Superintendent of Education John White said the state is investigating the school system over allegations a student received a fraudulent diploma. White said the state is not looking into cheating allegations, but just graduation records.
The News 2 Investigative Unit reported last week about the fraudulent diploma and allegations of cheating during online tests. Today's meeting with supporters of EBR Schools focused on allegations of cheating on standardized tests, which News 2 never reported on.
"This is truly a coup," State Representative Pat Smith said. "Someone has put out false information on the system, and I believe it comes from the pullout of St. George."
Lionel Rainey is a spokesman for the St. George effort. He was mystified by Smith's accusation.
"I think it says a lot when the Department of Education is investigating you for anything and your first instinct is to not address the investigation and point your finger at someone else," Rainey said.
The group included BESE Board Member Carolyn Hill, who is upset with State Supt. John White for not addressing the issue sooner.
"The audit has been blown out of proportion," Hill said. "State Superintendent White should have cleared up this matter early on."
White said that's exactly what he did. The state got involved after learning of the incident where an EBR student graduated that shouldn't have. That's why the investigation goes back three years.
"There is a concern that it happened more than once," White said. "I have a concern anytime in the public I see acknowledgement that there is a graduation discrepancy that shows there's a problem with the way records are kept. We will audit that. We are doing that across the state, it's our job."
News 2 has learned the investigation could expand if wrongdoing is found during the audit. State leaders will be looking at electronic and hard copies of documents.