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

By Bill Turque
Tuesday, March 22, 2011; 6:13 PM

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 principal 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 transcripts of 13 seniors during the 2008-09 academic year show Pinder's name listed as the teacher for several courses, including "Intro to Digital Media" and "Principles of U.S. Government." Most were given a "P" for passing, others given letter grades of "C" or above. Pinder does not teach courses at McKinley.

The investigation is the latest in a series of probes at the school, one of the District's five application-only high schools, that claimed one of the District's highest graduation rates in 2009 (96.5 percent).

Last week, the Acting D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced that he had referred the findings of a District investigation into the use of a $100,000 award to McKinley from AARP 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 in January of a former McKinley teacher. Rick Kelsey, the school's former STEM (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.

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