The Audit’s (Not So) Rigorous Investigation

As we described in an earlier post, we believe the DPI internal audit of NCVPS served primarily political purposes, and did not investigate most aspects of the misconduct at NCVPS.  The announcement of an audit was initiated to influence an investigative report about to air on WNCN, and DPI was successful in changing the tone of that report by claiming an investigation was being pursued.  The audit report was released just days before the court hearing on Superintendent Johnson’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit, and AAG Tiffany Lucas used its existence quite aggressively (and dishonestly) in her presentation to the court.  The audit was a very successful political strategy by DPI.  However, that does not mean it will help the Superintendent identify or fix the problems at NCVPS.

As part of our agreement with Superintendent Johnson to dismiss our lawsuit against him, he agreed to both follow up on the limited findings from the DPI audit of NCVPS and to respond to additional issues we believe the DPI audit failed to address.  Below is the list of items we provided to Superintendent Johnson:

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS NOT COVERED BY THE DPI INTERNAL AUDIT OF NCVPS

  1. Is it consistent with DPI’s audit policies to refuse to contact individuals known to be in a position to provide insight into a matter under investigation? Did this occur with regards to the audit of NCVPS?
  2. Did the SBE license-holders who submitted copied materials as their own work violate the copyrights of the authors and/or sites from which the material was stolen? If no, what doctrine of fair use allows over 100,000 words of misappropriated text in a fee-for hire arrangement to develop course materials?
  3. Did the SBE license-holders who submitted copied materials as their own work:
    1. violate their contracts with NCVPS (or was NCVPS expecting misappropriated material)?
    2. violate the SBE Code of Conduct for license-holders (or does the SBE think this is OK to do)?
    3. obtain payment from DPI on fraudulent grounds (or was DPI aware of the copied materials from the beginning)?
  4. According to DPI policy, to whom (management, the Superintendent, the SBE, the Attorney General, internal counsel, the State Auditor) should NCVPS Executives Colbert and Lourcey have reported the misconduct by the APUSH development team, including allegations of plagiarism and allegations of inappropriate payment of approximately $25,000 in contract payments to this team? Did they make those reports?
  5. Did NCVPS executives know about the plagiarism and significant shortcomings in the course before being notified by Concerned Parents? Specifically, how can executives contemporaneously claim to have already known about the issues and claim that the course was acceptable and written by NC certified teachers?
  6. Is it consistent with DPI policies for NCVPS Executives to blatantly lie to parents of students enrolled in NCVPS courses? Did that occur regarding the NCVPS APUSH course? (Was the problem with misappropriated material in the course limited to “a missing citation”? Was all of the course developed by NC certified teachers and aligned with NC standards?)
  7. Is it consistent with DPI policies to not inform school systems with students enrolled in the APUSH course of the extensive use of misappropriated content and other problems with the course? Did that occur regarding the NCVPS APUSH course?
  8. Is it consistent with DPI policies for NCVPS teachers to make disparaging comments about minor students? Is it consistent with DPI policies to rehire such contractors after they have been proven to have made such disparaging comments? Did that occur regarding the NCVPS APUSH course?
  9. Is it consistent with DPI policies to hire contractors who have just been accused of potentially illegal activity in the performance of a DPI contract to perform additional work for DPI? Did that occur regarding the NCVPS APUSH course?
  10. Who authorized and who carried out the actions which led to the destruction of DPI’s copies of the plagiarized materials in the APUSH course? Is it consistent with DPI policy to destroy such public records, especially after allegations of a potential crime? Did this destruction of evidence and public records violate the SBE Code of Conduct for license-holders?
  11. Has DPI taken any actions to prevent the destruction of additional public records at NCVPS?
  12. What actions did NCVPS executives take regarding the two other courses where Concerned Parents alerted DPI and SBE of documents indicating plagiarized course content? Has any division of DPI done anything to search for plagiarized content throughout NCVPS course offerings? What were the findings?
  13. What actions did NCVPS Executives take to investigate the allegations of wrong-doing and poor quality associated with the APUSH course? Were these actions consistent with DPI policies under the circumstances?
  14. Is the Superintendent of Public Instruction required to initiate a licensure investigation requested by Concerned Parents pursuant to 16 NCAC 6C.0312? If not, why not?
  15. Do NCVPS and DPI management set an appropriate “tone at the top” with respect to professional ethics?

Superintendent Johnson has promised a response to these questions in March of 2018.