D.C. principal under investigation for allegedly doctoring student transcripts

D.C. school officials are looking into allegations that the principal of McKinley Technology High School falsified student transcripts to award credit for courses never taken.

The allegations, first reported Tuesday by the Washington Examiner, are that David Pinder instructed data clerks to make the changes. Pinder declined an interview request Tuesday afternoon. Eastern Stewart, the investigator from the school system’s security office who is handling the probe, also declined to comment.

“The allegations are part of an ongoing investigation,” said Frederick Lewis, a spokesman for acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “We anticipate the investigation will conclude soon and DCPS will review the investigator’s findings. Until then, we cannot comment on allegations.”

The Examiner reported Tuesday that the transcripts of 13 seniors during the 2008-09 academic year show Pinder listed as the teacher for courses including “Intro to Digital Media” and “Principles of U.S. Government.” Most were given a P for passing; others were given letter grades of C or above. Pinder does not teach classes at McKinley.

It is the latest in a series of probes at the school — one of the District’s five application-only high schools — that in 2009 claimed one of the city’s highest graduation rates: 96.5 percent.

Last week, Irvin B. Nathan, acting D.C. attorney general, announced that he had referred the findings of a District investigation into the use of a $100,000 AARP award to McKinley to the U.S. attorney’s office because funds “may have been mishandled.”

In the course of that inquiry, the discovery of 10 missing laptop computers led to the arrest of a former McKinley teacher in January. Rick Kelsey, who had been the school’s science, math, engineering and technology director, was charged with second-degree theft. Kelsey has entered a diversion program for first-time offenders, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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