Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Edgar Hatrick sent a six-page letter to Loudoun Valley High School faculty and staff May 19 stating that the allegations claiming the school's teachers were bullied into boosting student's grades "are not borne out by fact."
The letter serves as a supplement to the conclusion of a months-long investigation by LCPS. The investigation, led by Julia B. Judkins, an attorney the school system regularly uses in lawsuits, declared the allegations to be unfounded.
When reports surfaced last November that teachers at Valley were strong-armed into inflating students' grades, Hatrick said "some of the allegations were new [and] others were not, but we are in the midst of an ongoing review so it is really too early to say what is fact and what is fiction."
Hatrick began his May 19 letter by mentioning the history he has with the school system and the faith he has in LCPS. The superintendent noted that the ratio of teachers who wished to transfer into Loudoun Valley compared with the teachers who wanted to transfer out was 14 to 1.
Hatrick also mentioned that "being a flagship school places additional demands on all staff to live up to self-imposed and externally-imposed expectations."
He finished the letter by saying, "I am also asking each of you to stop the rumor mill and devote your energies to working with one another and your administration to acknowledge and heal wounds that have occurred."
For a Loudoun Education Association representative, the statement created more questions than answers.
"Loudoun Valley employees who filed complaints still don't understand what took so long and why complaints they made would be considered unfounded," said Patsy Layer, director of the LEA. "The trust factor is completely gone."
In his letter, Hatrick wrote, "I believe that when the time is right it will take some people saying, 'I am sorry' before you can move on. And let me begin the process by offering you my sincere apology for allowing this process to take as long as it did. If I had it to do over again I would have intervened myself instead of employing others to interview and talk with you. That was my mistake, for which I am sorry."
Layer wanted to make clear that even though the investigation has gone on for eight months, the complaints were actually filed more than eight months ago, in July.
"It was essentially all school year that this investigation was going on. It created a difficult climate for the people in the building who spoke against the administration," said Layer. "It created a lot of tension and a lot of problems."
A recent ranking from U.S. News and World Report named Loudoun Valley to its list of top 20 high schools in the state, one of only three from Loudoun.
According to figures from the school system, 85 percent of the grades that were handed out at Loudoun Valley last year were As or Bs. That compares to 83 percent at Briar Woods and 59 percent at Park View.