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'You were underserved and misled:' OPSB Superintendent apologizes to JFK students

"You should be celebrating your senior graduation this month, but instead you have been forced to question the certainty of your future," the Superintendent said.

NEW ORLEANS — For the first time since allegations broke of grade tampering at John F. Kennedy High School, the Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent addressed students and parents about the situation.

"You were underserved and misled," Henderson Lewis stated.

Amid allegations of grade altering and other negligence, Superintendent Lewis addressed those affected at school board meeting Thursday night.

"First and foremost, on behalf of this District, I would like to apologize due to the careless and reckless actions of adults they trusted at John F. Kennedy," he said. "You should be celebrating your senior graduation this month, but instead you have been forced to question the certainty of your future."

Eyewitness Investigator David Hammer first broke this story in March after it was found student grades were changed. After, more allegations came up when seniors who thought they were graduating learned they couldn't because of falsely inflated grades. As of now, 92 or 177 students still haven't met graduation standards, including Denise Dixon's son.

RELATED: Nearly half of 2019 Kennedy High graduates have to take more classes

"He's not going to get his diploma until he makes up 15-hours for half a credit," Dixon said.

In addition to Lewis' apology at Thursday night's school board meeting, he addressed what's next, saying a travesty like this can't happen again.

"I have directed my OPSB staff to observe and engage where necessary to support summer school which has already begun," he read. "And we are meeting with New Beginnings weekly to make certain a laser focus is on helping our seniors' progress. We are requiring New Beginnings send out weekly progress reports to our families, the District has begun offering direct counseling and wrap around services to the senior in need of transition support."

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He also addressed those students who will be back at JFK for the upcoming school year.

"I also want to make certain that the rising juniors and seniors are taking the courses needed to graduate on time," he said. "We need to make sure every school has knowledgeable counselors and handling of student records is done appropriately. So beginning this fall, we'll host training at high schools on the best practices and tracking student progress towards graduation. We will audit student records at every high school."

And as the board tries to right this wrong, Lewis said nothing is off the table, which could include legal action, if necessary.

RELATED: Kennedy High principal, leadership out over grade-fixing scandal

"As far as the future of John F. Kennedy and holding those responsible accountable, I have sent a letter to the Louisiana Inspector General to conduct its own independent investigation into this matter assessing if any criminal wrongdoing has occurred. Regardless of the outcomes of this investigation, I want to insure the John F. Kennedy community, John F. Kennedy will remain open this school year and our priority is to ensure continuity and stability for all of our students and families currently enrolled."

RELATED: Orleans school board considers revoking charter over grade-inflation, altered public records

Eyewitness News reached out to the state Inspector General who said he's aware of the situation and is planning on meeting with staff soon regarding moving forward.

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