YULEE, Fla. – A state representative who is running for superintendent of schools for Nassau County is claiming that fraudulent practices may have been used to improve the graduation rates in Nassau and other school districts.
State Rep. Adkins said she began a review three months ago after a complaint from a former Nassau County School District administrator alleging that students who had failed algebra and/or English assessment testing were withdrawn from public schools and enrolled in out-of-state private schools.
By taking these students out of the district's graduation rate calculations, the rate would be driven up.
Adkins says that during the 2014-2015 school year, 92 percent of these transfers happened after May 1st -- toward the end of the school year.
Adkins said she sent a copy of her findings to Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and members of the state Board of Education on Friday.
“I am stunned at the idea that school districts would engage in practices aimed at manipulating graduation data for the purpose of driving up points to create a false sense of accomplishment," Adkins said in a statement. "I believe that any organized effort to commit fraud resulting in the disbursement of state dollars needs to have a closer review."
Retiring Nassau County Superintendent John Ruis said the district has a lot of different options for students in order for them to receive a diploma, such as adult high school and online programs.
Regarding Adkins' allegation of fraud, he told the I-TEAM: "If we considered it to be fraudulent, we wouldn't do it."
Adkins is running in against Kathy Knight Burns in the Republican primary. The winner will face a Libertarian candidate in the general election in November.