Grade-fixing is alive and well in NYC schools as administrators come up with tricky new ways to inflate their graduation rates — and few of the hundreds of cheating complaints ever get investigated.
The latest scandal erupted at the Secondary School for Journalism in Brooklyn when a student who had cut a required English class dozens of times and got the lowest failing grade, a 45, walked on stage in a white cap and gown to get his diploma — even after a whistle-blowing teacher cried foul.
Principal Marc Williams did not simply change the student’s grade in the class he had failed — a method used by other city administrators. Instead, he added an English course to the teen’s transcript, and let him sit at a computer for a few days to do an online program, teachers said. A whistle-blower claimed a classmate sat next to the teen and helped him take the tests to get a passing 65 grade. Told about the apparent cheating, the principal did nothing, sources told The Post.
“This was wrong,” said English teacher Kim Haynes, who protested the improper practices. “He knew it was wrong and he proceeded with it.”
Williams also let the teen “make up” work for an online Participation in Government class he had cut many times and failed with a 55, insiders said. He got help from the same friend, and received a passing 65, sources said.
Haynes sent an e-mail expressing shock and alarm about the teen’s online makeup course to Chancellor Carmen Fariña and other city and state education officials.
“We have a poster in our school that reads: ‘Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.’ I am appealing to someone to address this matter immediately,” Haynes wrote.
Williams did not return a request for comment. The Department of Education said it will investigate the allegations.
Besides the added last-minute credits, about 20 seniors at the 217-student Park Slope school, one of four in the John Jay building, took various online classes to help them graduate. But the classes lacked teachers certified in the subjects to instruct or assist the kids — a violation of state and city regulations, insiders charged.
Haynes wrote in her letter to school officials that on June 19, during the last week of classes, she was stunned to learn from the failing student that the principal would pass him after the online course — which is supposed to last 18 weeks.
“I questioned how he could make up an entire semester” in a day or two, she wrote.
“It is truly unethical,” said PTA president Annette Renaud. “The children who fail should go to summer school to make up the class. They’re not supposed to come in and do it in four days or whatever.”
These high-school principals were accused of various schemes to pass struggling students, according to investigators and whistleblowers:
- Tyee Chin of Flushing HS put 254 kids in geometry classes but ordered them taught algebra so they could to pass the Regents exam.
- Namita Dwarka of William Cullen Bryant HS falsely labeled students English-learners to give them more time on Regents exams.
- Kathleen Elvin of John Dewey HS programmed hundreds of sham classes to give students credits without instruction.
- Howard Kwait of John Bowne HS coerced teachers to change grades to boost the graduation rate.
- Richard Massel of Monroe Academy for Visual Arts & Design altered transcripts and gave students fake PE classes.
- Santiago Taveras of DeWitt Clinton HS changed grades from fail to pass without teachers’ required signatures.