Our Views: As scandal, not much, yet

There are many reasons why Baton Rouge is not Atlanta, but one way is that what has so far been uncovered doesn’t constitute an Atlanta-style scandal in which widespread school cheating was found.

Instead, in Baton Rouge, one student was found to have graduated one credit short of her requirement, and a follow-up audit found a number of student records at some schools did not match with the state-required database.

Unfortunately for the East Baton Rouge Parish system, the state capital is where politics is thick around the schools, and the state Department of Education is not some faraway bureaucracy but is open every day for business, such as conducting audits of school data.

There is a move afoot to break off the so-called St. George community as a separate system from the larger East Baton Rouge system. So when the discrepancies involving records were reported by the state, politics took the place of common sense.

It’s hardly “The single greatest scandal to ever occur in East Baton Rouge Parish or it’s (sic) school system,” as a committee of St. George supporters called it.

That kind of conclusion, we think, is not warranted by the facts — yet.

Nor is the new report, on the face of the audit, anything on the level of the Atlanta scandals that rocked public education circles around the country.

Instead, we see a legitimate worry of the state Education Department, legitimately investigated. There’s a reasonably frank admission by the East Baton Rouge Parish system that some of its procedures were not followed “with fidelity,” and finally some evidence that some schools have more discrepancies in student grades and records.

On the last point, there’s some doubt if the errors are merely clerical or, worse, signs of managerial failure. There is plenty of reason to follow up and identify if there are specific cases of academic fraud to help particular students graduate or a more general case of teachers and principals trying to improve a school’s performance rating.

But on all points, despite the bluster we’ve become used to on the part of the local superintendent, Bernard Taylor, we have seen a willingness to fix problems that are found.

The call for Taylor’s resignation by a St. George committee is certainly premature, given what we know now.

We think that there’s plenty of reason for cooperation on an assessment of the problem and an improvement plan to fix it, instead of posturing by politicians in schools or outside of them.