Highly-regarded retired teacher alleges 'grade fixing' at Reagan High School

For three decades, Dr. Tim Daponte taught the children of Houston ISD  and by all accounts, few if any, did a better job.

"I wanted to do something that was meaningful," said Daponte. The Fulbright Scholar with a Ph.D. in physics education was honored time and time again for his excellence within the classroom.

As allegations of grade inflation and rampant social promotion emerged within Houston Independent School District, the lifelong educator felt compelled to step forward. 

"I was told by one of the leadership teams at one of the high schools that they didn't care if the kids learned as long as they passed the test," said Daponte.

Now retired from HISD, Daponte says failing students at Reagan High School, where he last taught, were allowed to pass by "gaming" the system.

"They had failed the course. I entered their grades. They have an F in this class," recalled Daponte.

But according to Daponte they were failing grades Reagan H.S. administrators were willing to wipe away if the students could somehow pass a final exam - a test which they were allowed to take multiple times with the aid of answer sheets from previous attempts.

"They take the final exam and it's corrected using the Scantron computer cards. If they fail it, they were given the same test with their corrected Scantron again, until they passed," said Daponte.

Daponte believes the clear aim of what many consider cheating was a higher graduation rate in a district desperate to reduce the number of drop outs.

"If the administration is gaming the system, what message does that send to the students," said Daponte.

So why not blow the whistle sooner?

"Had I spoke about this while I was actually teaching I would have been fired the next day. Why don't teachers come forward? Because they are afraid of being fired. Who are they going to complain to?," said Daponte.

FOX 26 has confirmed Daponte's allegation with a second source with first-hand knowledge.

A spokesperson for HISD says campus administration has denied knowledge of the multiple test taking for course passage.

HISD says the allegation has been forwarded to its Internal auditor for review.

Meantime Daponte is teaching at the Harris County Juvenile Detention Facility where many of his students once attended HISD schools.

"Many of them can't read, can't write a coherent sentence, can't do simple arithmetic and yet they are in the 11th grade. They have enough credits to be in the 10th or 11th grade," said Daponte.