Principal denies role in grade case

Oakland Mills' Peterson makes claim via Internet

February 21, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Oakland Mills principal Marshall Peterson, in an e-mail to an Oakland Mills High School community Internet chat room, denied all implications that he had anything to do with improper grade changes at his Columbia school.

His response came after an article in Wednesday's editions of The Sun in which former football coach, athletic director and social studies teacher Ken Hovet said school administrators initiated the grade changes that resulted in Oakland Mills' football team forfeiting seven games and its state playoff spot.

In the statement, Peterson said:

"At no time have I ever asked a staff member to do any of the following: seek eligibility for a student; ask a teacher to consider changing a grade for a student seeking athletic eligibility; ask someone to ask a teacher to intervene with a grade change for a student. This includes the time period covered by the football eligibility.

"There have been general statements made and articles written suggesting that I asked or sought eligibility for a student. Those statements are without merit and have no truth. I will not comment on the activities of others but will strongly state again that I did not seek nor did I ask anyone else to seek the eligibility of any student. We will with time move on beyond this together and once again fully appreciate all the good that Oakland Mills encompasses."

An investigation into the grade changing resulted in a recommendation by School Superintendent John R. O'Rourke that Hovet be fired. Hovet, who had been on unpaid administrative leave since Jan. 12, and was on paid administrative leave starting Nov. 13, received notification from the Howard County school board this week that he had been terminated from all three positions. He has filed an appeal.

Meanwhile, the Howard County school system will randomly select one school each season and have its eligibility records for students in extracurricular activities audited by an independent firm. The Washington Post first reported this yesterday.

A lottery system will be used to select among the 11 county schools. Hammond has been chosen for the winter season.

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