Mobile County Public School Superintendent Martha Peek says she’ll stand behind the school systems reported 86% graduation rate. That’s despite findings from an audit by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General that found Alabama’s overall graduation rate may be skewed.
State School Superintendent Michael Sentance reported the findings late last week. He said the auditors found that special needs occupational diplomas were being added into the overall number of graduates. They also found that some students were given credit for courses they didn’t deserve.
Peek confirmed that auditors from the Inspector Generals office were in Mobile but was assured in a message from Sentance on Monday that there were no significant concerns in Mobile. She also said that the Mobile system did includE occupational diplomas in the overall graduation rate, but only because the state school board, particularly former superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice, said it was okay to do that. She said leaving out occupational diplomas would have only a small impact on the overall rate.
Mobile was one of three school systems in the state that were audited. Birmingham was another. It is believed Montgomery was the third but that has not been confirmed by state school officials.
State School Board member Matthew Brown told News 5 he believes it was the state’s seemingly meteoric rise in high school graduates that got the Department of Education’s attention in the first place. The state soared from 71% in 2011 to a reported 89% in 2015.
Mobile’s graduation rate was last reported at 86%, a number Peek says she will stand by.