MIAMI (CBS4) – An investigation into a former Northwestern High principal found that he ordered changes to a student’s grades to protect the student’s eligibility for an athletic scholarship.
According to the report, Charles Hankerson ordered the school’s testing chair to forge two teachers’ signatures on grade change forms so the student would be eligible for the scholarship.
“If he did, then that would be wrong on his part,” said Northwestern Senior, Ashlee Walker. “But me personally, as an individual, I don’t feel like he would have done something like that. I mean he’s all about academics.”
Hankerson’s attorney,Michelle Delancy, declined CBS4 News’ request for an interview with her client, but released the following statement:
“Mr. Hankerson has never requested or ordered any grade change for any current or former Miami Northwestern student. It is unfortunate that certain individuals have chosen to relay false information to the OIG in an effort to protect themselves and their jobs. Certain conclusions in the OIG’s report are the result of that effort. Mr. Hankerson is nevertheless confident that once this process has concluded, his name will be cleared.”
Hankerson joined Northwestern in 2007 after the previous principal had been accused of covering up a sex scandal to protect a student football player.
As veteran of the school system, Hankerson oversaw academic improvement at the Liberty City school and created a college resource center.
“What people need to do at this point is focus more on the progress this school has made,” said John Schuster, District Spokesperson. “This school was moved from an ‘F’ to qualify to a ‘C’ last year.”
The investigation was launched in 2010 after Miami-Dade School District Inspector General Christopher Mazzella received a tip that employees had altered student grades that summer.
According to the investigation, the student’s report card was changed at the end of the school year in order to elevate his GPA just enough to qualify the student to play Division 1 athletics.
The school system’s Office of Professional Standard will review the report and issue a recommendation on disciplinary action.
In the meantime Hankerson has been reassigned to administrative duties at a regional office.