District speaks out in Madera High investigation

October 26, 2012 12:11:28 AM PDT
Madera Unified School District officials say the investigation involving a football player "fixing absences" for his friends and teammates is "unusual".

Robert Chavez, Chief Academic Officer for the district, says "this is the first time I've come across anything of this nature- to this degree". Chavez also says his investigators are looking at everything from the technology at Madera High School, to the punishment given to students.

Students tell Action News that the "scheme" involved a Varsity Player, who was working as a student aide. He reportedly waited until the teacher left for lunch, hopped on her computer, and then started changing the number of absences for dozens of students.

Trish Gonzales says her daughter was one of the many students who was suspended. She says, "How come Madera high didn't catch this? Why was he allowed to access to that system"?

She, and many other parents, question whether some of the involved students were given special treatment.

District Officials won't discuss the number of involved students, but did say the level of punishment, is just one part of their complicated investigation. Chavez says, "this is an ongoing investigation, and we are looking into all aspects, including the athletes and non athletes, participation in sports or other activities".

He also said the investigation includes the potential for change. "We investigate it thoroughly and afterwards, we always place in precautions and or communications that would eliminate or negate this ever happening again".

The California Department of Education hadn't heard about this investigation, but did say, it needs to be handled at the local level.

Public schools get funding based on attendance. We're told the student absences were changed for at least a week. Representatives at The Madera County Office of Education told Action News, that won't change the money Madera High receives from the state.

Geri Kendall Coz, Chief Business Officer says "if a discrepancy is found at this point in the school year, the district has plenty of time to investigate, correct their records and submit accurate information to us".

District Leaders say they also want to remind parents that they have every student's best interest at heart, and are re-evaluating everything that has happened in the past few weeks.


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