Schools exec re­moved from post amid Boca High probe

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Andrew Marra Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

BOCA RA­TON — A high-rank­ing Palm Beach County pub­lic school ad­min­is­tra­tor has been re­as­signed while of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gate his de­ci­sion as prin­ci­pal of Boca Ra­ton High School to let a straight-A stu­dent take a class with­out re­ceiv­ing a grade, a po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tion of state rules, ac­cord­ing to district of­fi­cials and court records.

Geoff McKee, Boca Ra­ton High’s for­mer long­time prin­ci­pal, has been trans­ferred from his po­si­tion as an in­struc­tional su­per­in­ten­dent to a tem­po­rary post in the school district’s trans­porta­tion de­part­ment while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeds.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was prompted by McKee’s de­ci­sion in 2015 to let an am­bi­tious Boca High stu­dent take a lead­er­ship class — al­low­ing him to serve as a mem­ber of the school’s stu­dent gov­ern­ment — with­out hav­ing the grade counted on his tran­script, ac­cord­ing to a law­suit filed this week.

The stu­dent is now a se­nior and pres­i­dent of Boca Ra­ton High’s stu­dent gov­ern­ment as­so­ci­a­tion. Since the lead­er­ship class was not a col- lege-level c lass, the stu- dent and his fa­ther wor­ried that even an A grade could have low­ered the stu­dent’s weighted grade-point aver- age, ac­cord­ing to the suit, which names the stu­dent as the plain­tiff but was filed by his fa­ther, at­tor­ney Frank Chap­man.

To ac­com­mo­date the stu­dent, McKee agreed that he could en­roll in the class “with- out this grade be­ing re­flected on his tran­script and in his Hon­ors Grade Point Av­er­age cal­cu­la­tion,” the suit says.

That agree­ment, the suit con­tends, al­lowed the stu­dent to serve in stu­dent gov­ern­ment with­out los­ing an op­por­tu­nity to at­tain a per- fect 6.0 weighted grade-point av­er­age.

But al­low­ing en­rolled stu­dents to take a class with­out re­ceiv­ing a grade could run afoul of state rules, two school district of­fi­cials said.

A school district spokes- woman said in a state­ment that of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing McKee’s “ad­her­ence (to) ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures in his pre­vi­ous role as prin­ci­pal of Boca Ra­ton Com­mu­nity High School.”

In an email, McKee de­clined to com­ment on the case but said he was “grate­ful for every day I have had the priv­i­lege of serv­ing Palm Beach County stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors.”

The stu­dent “re­lied upon this con­tract and worked dil- igently mak­ing sac­ri­fices to en­sure that he would re­ceive a 6.0 earn­ing A’s in more high school-based col­lege-level classes than any known stu­dent be­fore him,” the suit says.

The suit con­tends that the agree­ment be­tween McKee and Chap­man’s son was a “con­trac­tual agree­ment” but that the school broke the agree­ment af­ter McKee was pro­moted to an ad­min­is­tra­tive post and a new prin­ci­pal was named.

As a re­sult, the suit says the stu­dent is now forced to ei­ther ac­cept a grade in the class or “be ‘kicked out’ as SGA pres- ident of Boca High.”

Af­ter Chap­man pres­sured district of­fi­cials to honor the ar­range­ment, McKee be­came a sub­ject of an in­ter­nal school

Al­low­ing en­rolled stu­dents to take a class with­out re­ceiv­ing a grade could run afoul of state rules, two school district of­fi­cials said.

district probe fo­cus­ing on his de­ci­sion to al­low the class “to not be taken for credit or a grade,” the suit says.

McKee, 54, was prin­ci­pal of Boca Ra­ton High for 13 years, a pe­riod dur­ing which the school grew into an aca­demic pow­er­house. But his ten­ure hit tur­bu­lence when he was in­ves­ti­gated and cited for propos­ing to a for­mer teacher on the school’s foot­ball field with­out for­mally leas­ing the field, a move that of­fi­cials called a vi­o­la­tion of school district pol­icy.

In 2015, at the height of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, McKee sued the school district, al­leg­ing that district of­fi­cials were bas­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion on in­for­ma­tion that his ex-wife im­prop­erly ob­tained by hack­ing into his per­sonal email ac­count.

The fol­low­ing year, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was re­solved with a rep­ri­mand for McKee. Later that year, he was pro­moted to an in­struc­tional su­per­in­ten­dent po­si­tion. He earns an an­nual base salary of $135,000.

DA­MON HIG­GINS / THE PALM BEACH POST 2012

Geoff McKee (left), then-Boca Ra­ton High School prin­ci­pal, greets Gov. Rick Scott who ar­rived at the school for a 9/11 me­mo­rial cer­e­mony in 2012. McKee was prin­ci­pal of Boca Ra­ton High for 13 years, a pe­riod dur­ing which the school grew into an aca­demic pow­er­house. His ten­ure hit tur­bu­lence in 2015.

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