Former Sask. principal accused of changing student grades

The former principal at Wolseley High School defended her actions today at a disciplinary hearing in Saskatoon.

Hearing continues for Kimberley Sautner, accused of changing at least 3 students' marks

Kimberley Sautner, a former Saskatchewan principal, is accused of changing the grades of students including her daughter. (CBC)

The former principal at Wolseley High School defended her actions today at a disciplinary hearing in Saskatoon.

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says Kimberley Sautner is accused of changing at least three students' final marks, and offering other teachers money to raise one of her daughter's grades. 

Sautner was the principal of the high school in Wolseley for eight years, before she and her family moved to Alberta.

 'I've never changed a grade.'-Kimberley Sautner , accused principal 

"I've never changed a grade," Sautner told the eight-member professional ethics committee.

"Absolutely not."

Sautner is listed as the principal of New Brigden Public School in southern Alberta. New Brigden is located approximately 360 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

In her last month at the school, Sautner is accused of changing students' final marks "without validation and contrary to proper procedure and protocol," according to the STF.

Sautner admits she didn't have extensive knowledge about the computerized marking and attendance system her school used. She denied giving anyone else her password.

Yesterday, an information technology specialist from the school board told the committee he'd looked at the marking system, and several numbers did not add up in three students' final grade calculations.

"I have no idea how those marks changed," Sautner told the committee. "I know I didn't change them."

In January 2015, it's alleged she made what the STF calls "inappropriate requests" to two of her daughter's former teachers at Wolseley High School, asking them to increase her daughter's final mark in English.

During the hearing today, Sautner explained students are offered the chance to change their grades even after they have completed a class. She said older students often return to high school, to complete additional course work to upgrade their marks.

She also said students can do "credit recovery" in subjects where they did not complete the course, or passed with a low mark.

Sautner messaged daughter's former teachers

Sautner admitted she texted two of her daughter's former teachers, after learning her daughter was on the verge of failing her first university-level English class at the University of Lethbridge. The girl needed the course in order to enter the university's teaching program.

The girl went to an academic advisor for help, who told her she could re-take the university course. Alternatively, Sautner says her daughter was told she could have bypassed the course altogether, through a clause in what Sautner called "the fine print."

"If she'd had an overall 80 per cent average in English in high school, she'd be exempt from taking that English course altogether," Sautner told the professional ethics committee.

At the time, her daughter had only a 72 per cent average. 

"School didn't come easy to her but she worked hard at it," Sautner said, noting her daughter was an "above-average" student in most areas.

Sautner said she contacted her daughter's former English teachers "as a parent", to inquire whether they could help her daughter with some upgrading work.

The first teacher she contacted was on maternity leave. ​The other was retired.

"Doing a novel study, doing some component of it... it was a difference of eight per cent," Sautner said on Tuesday. "If [my daughter] had to drive to Wolseley to take an exam, she would."

Teachers offered $500

Sautner said she offered both teachers $500 in her texts, because she was trying to compensate them for the time it would take to help her daughter.

"I was trying to be a good person and I was trying to compensate her for the time she'd be putting into it," Sautner told the committee.

"It was my way of saying thank you," she said.

The committee will now submit a written report to executive members of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. If they find Sautner guilty, STF executive members will determine whether she deserves a written reprimand, or whether they recommend the Ministry of Education pull her teaching certificate.

A spokewoman for STF says it will be at least a month before the outcome.