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Two audits of Richmond Public Schools reveal a system plagued with problems

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 23:30:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two school audits requested in February by Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras reveals a school system plagued with problems including poor accreditation rating, below state average SOL scores, and declining graduation rates.

A report released Monday by the Virginia Department of Education shows Richmond with the lowest graduation rates in Virginia - with only 3 in 4 students graduating on time.

"These were difficult to read," Kamras said. "I want to be absolutely clear that there's nothing wrong with the kids of RPS. We the adults who are in charge with caring for them have not done right by them."

One audit focused on equity in schools, showed large disparities between more affluent schools- including Mary Munford and William Fox
and schools with high poverty rates like Overby Sheppard Elementary.

These disparities could be seen in number of students suspended and absentee rates- which showed 1 in 5 students were chronically absent last school year. Access to gifted programs and tenured teachers also proved to be more challenging for schools with a large number of black and latino students.

A second audit focusing on budget found large gaps in leadership and organization in RPS, including constant changing of senior leadership positions with no succession plans in place.

The audit team gave 21 recommendations -including the establishment of an audit committee made up of school board, the hiring of an additional auditor to work alongside members of the school board, and working with community members with backgrounds in finance.

Kamras says some initiatives are already in place- and more changes will come soon.

"Addressing these issues like our strategic plan is going to require us to make difficult decisions," Kamras said. "Change requires change."