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Testing irregularities at Knightdale Elementary probed

The investigation comes as Knightdale Elementary Principal Michael Williams is serving a suspension. Officials haven't disclosed the reason for the suspension.

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KNIGHTDALE, N.C. — The Wake County school system is investigating an allegation of testing irregularities at Knightdale Elementary School.

The investigation comes as Knightdale Elementary Principal Michael Williams is serving a suspension.

Williams was suspended with pay on July 14, but Wake County school officials haven't disclosed the reason for the suspension.

"The only thing I know is that he's suspended with pay, and the rest is a confidential personnel matter," school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

Williams declined to discuss his suspension, calling it an "unfortunate situation."

Lou Fabrizio, director of the Division of Accountability Services for the state Department of Public Instruction, said state officials got a complaint about a week ago concerning testing procedures at the school. The complaint came from outside the Wake County district, he said.

The issue was turned over to district administrators for an internal investigation, he said.

Knightdale Elementary students made adequate yearly progress in state-mandated reading and math scores every year from 2003 to 2007. The school failed to meet the math standard last year; the latest reading scores are still being tabulated.

About a dozen testing-related complaints are filed each year in North Carolina, Fabrizio said. An outside investigator is looking at the Scotland County school system, for example, because of a complaint that some high schools students didn't take their standardized tests, he said.

"No Child Left Behind and the ABCs accountability program, these are high-stakes (testing) programs. We want the public to feel confident in the results we've given them," Fabrizio said.

Williams has been principal at Knightdale Elementary since last fall and served as interim principal for a year before that. He has worked with the Wake County school system since 1999.

Knightdale Elementary is a year-round school that has been in session since early July, but several parents of students said they were unaware Williams had been off the job for most of the school year.

"I wish we'd been notified from the beginning," parent Kim Johnson said.

The school board on Tuesday granted Williams' request for a transfer, reassigning him to Wakefield High School for the upcoming school year.

He will be replaced at Knightdale Elementary by former Principal Judy Dudley, who will serve as interim principal from Aug. 7 through Nov. 7.

"I asked for a transfer because I wanted more experience," Williams said.

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Kelcey Carlson, Reporter
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