PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Three Providence school board members are calling for an independent investigation into claims that graduating students received credits they may not have earned.
Providence School Board member Ty’Relle Stephens alleges around two dozen students earned 15 credits – the equivalent of three years of education – in roughly one month.
Stephens sent a letter to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) on Aug. 5 asking the agency to open an independent investigation.
“Graduation inflation misrepresents data, and directly harms students,” Stephens wrote.
RIDE Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green told 12 News the agency launched an investigation when the allegations were brought to her attention. Providence Deputy City Solicitor Charles Ruggerio is leading the probe.
“It’s part of regular protocol,” Infante-Green said. “I have complete faith in Charlie and I think we need to make sure we take all allegations seriously.”
Two more school board members are joining in on Stephens’ call for an independent investigation, asking State Sen. Lou DiPalma to step in, who chairs the Senate Oversight Committee.
The school board members also said they received multiple anonymous complaints that the RIDE investigation is being tampered with.
Infante-Green declined to comment in detail due to the ongoing investigation.
“Allegations are allegations,” Infante-Green said.
Providence Superintendent Javier Montañez responded to Stephens’ claims, saying they are inflammatory.
“Broadcasting unsubstantiated allegations based on rumor and innuendo, while those allegations are being actively investigated, is incredibly reckless and irresponsible,” Montañez said. “I stand by my staff until there is verified evidence of wrongdoing. I want it made clear that no such evidence exists at this time.”
DiPalma said the issue will likely be discussed in a hearing in September, calling the allegations “alarming” if true.