Longtime Landry-Walker High School principal Mary Laurie is among the school administrators placed on paid administrative leave amid a cheating investigation, the Algiers Charter Schools Association announced Monday.
The six-school network conducted an internal investigation after allegations of testing impropriety at the high school in the 2013-14 school year. The investigation revealed inconsistencies in students’ class grades compared to state test scroes, and the school’s performance plummeted the following year after more testing monitors were placed at the high school, Nola.com reported last week.
Along with Laurie, Assistant Principal Taisha Williams-Payne, Assistant Principal Brian Gibson, and teacher and former test coordinator Trayvonia Duhe have all been placed on paid administrative leave. Laurie is the longtime principal of O. Perry Walker High School and kept her leadership role when Walker merged with L. B. Landry High School. In 2012-13, the year before the schools merged, Landry got an F on the state’s report card and Walker had a B.
The administrative moves come just weeks after a less-than-clear shakeup at the network level, when the board fired its CEO Adrian Morgan days after publicly tapping network elementary principal Rene Lewis-Carter as interim CEO.
The network released a statement Monday:
“ACSA takes allegations of testing impropriety seriously. After allegations arose, trustees of ACSA launched a self-imposed, internal investigation. Preventative measures were put in place in order to preserve the integrity of Landry-Walker’s testing and educational environment. These measures continue today and are integral to ACSA’s standard operating procedures network-wide. Currently, in concert with the Louisiana Inspector General and Department of Education, ACSA is continuing its investigation and remains committed to the best testing practices.”
Lewis-Carter said the decision was difficult from both a professional and personal standpoint. She and Laurie had served as network principals together for years.
“Because the alleged testing improprieties occurred under their leadership, this decision underscores the serious nature of testing,” Lewis-Carter said. “Such behavior directly affects the stability of our education system and the welfare of our students.”
The network plans to announce an interim principal for the high school soon.