The Northern Westchester Examiner

Peekskill Principal Who Triggered Transcript Probe Stepping Down

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Fred Hutchinson
Fred Hutchinson

The Peekskill Board of Education was expected Monday night to accept the resignation of high school Principal Fred Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, who was hired by the district in June 2012 and uncovered transcript irregularities affecting 34 high school students last year that resulted in four guidance counselors and a social studies department chairperson being placed on administrative leave, notified district officials last week that he would be stepping down at the end of the school year.

According to a published report, Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli said Hutchinson’s resignation was not connected to the scandal that involved the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office investigating possible criminal acts. Licopoli said it was strictly for personal reasons, including a daily three-hour commute from Hutchinson’s home.

In a letter to parents last year, former Superintendent of Schools Jim Willis said the bulk of the transcript irregularities, which were first noticed by Hutchinson, stemmed from class credit that was issued for a “Co-op” class that apparently was a legitimate ‘work experience’ course in the district that was discontinued several years ago. In addition, an isolated number of transcripts contained credits that seemingly were given “inappropriately” for other courses.

For a portion of the students affected, the illegitimate course credit had no bearing on their ability to graduate. A second group of students required personalized solutions of additional course work and passage of all classes in order to graduate. Meanwhile, other students needed additional coursework over the summer and/or another semester to graduate.

All of the approximately 800 transcripts of high school students last year were reviewed, along with recent graduates as well, in order for district officials to determine if the irregularities were a common practice in past years.

The district will be conducting an immediate search for Hutchinson’s replacement in order for the new principal to take over in July.

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