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Two District administrators surrender licenses in cheating scandal

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

In the first clear fallout from investigations into the cheating scandal in Philadelphia, two administrators have surrendered credentials in lieu of disciplinary action by the state.

They are Barbara McCreery, the former principal of Communications Tech High School and this year principal of Bok Technical High School, and Lola Marie O’Rourke, former principal of Locke Elementary. Both Comm Tech and Locke were among the 53 Philadelphia schools investigated for irregular patterns on PSSA scores.

Both surrendered administrative licenses in March, but not instructional certifications. McCreery is still listed as the principal of Bok, although the head of the principals’ bargaining unit, Robert McGrogan, said that she had retired. O’Rourke has been replaced as principal of Locke by Katherine Carter.

Comm Tech’s scores dropped precipitously — 45 points in math and 38 points in reading — when it got a new principal in 2010-11. Between 2011 and 2012, when more stringent test security measures were put in place, Locke’s PSSA scores dropped 42 percentage points in math and 32 points in reading. Locke was one of 33 Philadelphia schools, District and charter, where the average of the reading and math proficiency rates plunged by 20 points or more in 2012.

McGrogan said he could not say how many more administrators may have action taken against them by the state.

He said that he sat in on hearings for administrators in just about all the schools that had been under investigation, sometimes "six, seven, eight hearings" for the same school. However, he added that a hearing doesn’t mean that a given administrator was the target of the investigation or ultimately was implicated in any wrongdoing.

Still, he added, "This will be far from done. It sounds to me that two people had been identified by the state. I don’t know how many more will be coming. I really don’t know."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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