A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for school board emails reveal at least one Indian River School Board member expressed concern months ago over the allegations of school attendance record tampering by Sussex Central High School principal Dr. Bradley Layfield.
Indian River School District Superintendent, Dr. Mark Steele revealed the details of the changing of school attendance records by the principal in this call to the Dan Gaffney Show (Delaware 105.9) AUDIO OF THAT INTERVIEW HERE.
Questions about this practice arose when allegations surfaced that school athletes may have been given special perks by the principal to avoid suspensions that might lead not being able to play in upcoming sports contests. Allegations flatly denied by Mark Steele and the school district.
Elected school board member Dr. Heather Statler asked for the “situation at SCHS” be brought before the entire board after members of the community including teachers brought it to her attention as this email from March 2019 shows:
After the issue was apparently discussed at a board meeting Dr. Statler followed up with several questions. Questions that have not been fully answered by district officials according to the results of the FOIA.
The above emails reveal many of the tardy marks (84 of the over 1200) backed out of the attendance system by Principal Layfield happened after 8am, contrary to the earlier interview with Mark Steele who claimed the marks were changed for students arriving between 7:40am and 8:00am.
“I was told of a student that is habitually late. I was told that if we followed our tardy policy/procedure, the student would have accumulated detentions and subsequent in-school suspensions and hence not been able to participate in a sporting event due to his discipline. Do we have a potential violation of DIAA rules?”, Dr. Statler asked.
She also quizzed the school by asking “What is our process of discipline for an administrator in this kind of case?”
The Delaware Department of Education is involved in investigating all of this but no results have been released.
For now the Indian River School District maintains the following statement on the matter after an internal investigation:
The district is aware of this concern and conducted a thorough investigation in the spring of 2019. The investigation revealed that there was no leniency afforded athletes with regard to tardiness, so the accusation is unfounded. Furthermore, DIAA rules do not consider tardiness to be a disqualifying factor for athletics, so the insinuation that athletes received leniency so that they could play sports is not valid.
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