Former Sanders-Clyde Elementary School Principal MiShawna Moore says she didn't do anything unethical or illegal with standardized testing at the school.
Moore maintained her innocence in a letter this week while requesting a 30-day unpaid leave of absence from her position as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Halifax County schools in North Carolina.
She asked for the leave so that she could "address and be available to have face-to-face conversations with the appropriate individuals in Charleston, S.C.," according to a letter from
Moore to the Halifax County School Board. The request was granted.
The state released Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test results last week that showed massive drops in test scores at Sanders-Clyde, a high-poverty downtown school previously recognized for its students' impressive achievement. The test score decline coincided with stringent district oversight of the school's testing, a first for the school.
Charleston school officials asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate after seeing the scores plummet this year as well as a higher- than-average number of student eraser marks on 2007 tests and improbable academic gains among students in 2007. SLED has opened an investigation.
The Post and Courier has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to reach Moore for comment. In her letter, obtained Thursday by the newspaper, Moore says that she did not respond to the newspaper's requests "mainly because I was unable to contact anyone that could give me an official explanation of what was going on other than what was being reported in the media. To date, I have not been contacted by any official with the Charleston County School District."
Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said neither she nor anyone in the chief academic office has heard from Moore or tried to contact her. The information about Sanders-Clyde has been turned over to the state, and McGinley said the district wasn't going to interfere with the state investigation.
Moore left Charleston in June, a few weeks after PACT testing ended.
Jennifer Timmons, a spokeswoman for SLED, could not comment on whether the state had asked Moore to return to South Carolina.
Moore explains in her letter to the Halifax County School Board that before leaving Charleston, she prepared information from her testing coordinator and teachers that would answer any questions about testing procedures at the school.
While it's unclear what information she's referencing, McGinley said the district received a packet from Moore that described school employees' concerns about the monitors' effect on the school during the 2008 testing period. The roughly 20-page document included a narrative and several e-mails from teachers that detailed the way district monitors disturbed the testing environment, such as the number of times monitors entered and exited classrooms and the impact of the strangers on children used to familiar faces, McGinley said. Some felt the monitoring would hurt test scores, she said.
Moore said in her letter that she believed her submission of that information was the end of any questions about what happened this year.
"If I believed otherwise, I would have never taken a chance in bringing you or the district discontent or uncertainty about my credibility," Moore wrote. "Please accept this as confirmation that I was not involved in any unethical or illegal activities, as it pertains to the administration of the state test at my school."
Halifax County schools Superintendent Geraldine Middleton said she wasn't concerned about the investigation at Sanders-Clyde because nothing has been proven. Middleton supervised Moore in Charleston, and Middleton said she hired Moore in North Carolina because of her knowledge of curriculum and instruction. Middleton does not believe Moore was involved in any wrongdoing.
"I believe, that based on her work and knowledge, that it's not true," she said. "We will await the results of the investigation."