School employees fired after SOL cheating investigation

PETERSBURG, Va. - "Cheating will not be tolerated." That is the message Petersburg Public Schools Superintendent Marcus Newsome said he hoped to send after several school employees were fired following an investigation into spring Standards of Learning (SOL) testing at A.P. Hill Elementary School.

"We must ensure the integrity of the testing environment, and violators of state procedures will face consequences," Dr. Newsome said. "The vast majority of our teachers, staff members and administrators are doing the right thing to improve instruction and academic achievement throughout the school system. Petersburg students can and will succeed when we provide engaging and relevant learning opportunities.

June 12 tip to the Virginia Department of Education prompted the A.P. Hill investigation.

The school system has not provided details about the nature of the cheating, nor the employees involved.

"The school division does not comment on specific personnel disciplinary actions, however, several employees are no longer employed by Petersburg City Public Schools as a result of the investigation," a Petersburg Public Schools spokesperson said. "Because of the testing violations, A.P. Hill Elementary’s accreditation will likely be withheld by the state."

Virginia SOLs tests in reading and math are given in third, fourth, and fifth grades. Fifth grade students also take history and science SOL tests.

A.P. Hill students won't retake the tests and won't receive score reports for spring 2017 SOL tests, the school system spokesperson said.

The school system will review practices and processes to "ensure the validity of all of the school system’s accountability data," CBS 6 reported.