Reports: Principal investigated in grade-fixing scandal

CAMDEN, N.J. -- A former NFL player who was assigned more than two years ago to clean up dysfunctional Camden High School is being investigated for fixing the grades of some student-athletes, according to media reports.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill both reported in Wednesday's newspapers that the district was investigating whether Al Davis improperly raised the grades of at least five students who play sports, some of whom were football players. The newspapers cited unnamed sources close to the investigation.

Davis was suspended at a school board meeting Monday, said district spokesman Bart Leff, who would not say why Davis was being investigated.

Davis was not at the school Wednesday and did not immediately return a message left at his home.

Athletes must maintain grades a 2.0 grade-point average to be eligible to play. The Inquirer reported that one football player had straight F's but was allowed to play this year.

The Camden High football team, which has a proud tradition of churning out players who go on to play in college and sometimes professionally, went 7-3 this year.

Davis, 58, has worked at the district on and off since 1989, Leff said.

In his previous career, he played in professional football for a handful of teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971 and 1972.

Schools in Camden have had many administrative problems. Davis was promoted from co-principal at Woodrow Wilson High School to principal at Camden High in 2004 amid broad midyear changes to try to clean up a school beseeched by poor academic performance, bad behavior and even scheduling confusion.

Grade and test-score fixing has become a major issue in the school district. The principal at Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical High was ousted earlier this year after claiming district administrators wanted him to fix standardized test scores in his building and another administrator has been accused of altering grades on the transcripts of students there to make them more attractive to colleges.

The state is also looking into whether "adult interference" was behind increased test scores at two Camden elementary schools.