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Queens Chronicle

Cheating improved HS stats: report

District Attorney’s Office now looking into Maspeth corruption allegations

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2019 10:30 am

A 98 percent graduation rate. A 90 percent Regents pass rate. The awarding of the prestigious National Blue Ribbon last October.

Impressive feats to tout for Maspeth High School — until the New York Post reported last weekend that an unwritten “no-fail policy” is the cause of the grades.

As of Monday, seven teachers reportedly had told the paper about passing undeserving students in a policy students call the “Maspeth minimum.”

Accusations include math teachers changing incorrect answers on Scantron exam forms, truant students passing classes and an assistant principal teaching a course where attendance is not required.

City Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) told the Queens Chronicle he had suspicions about the school two years ago when there was controversy about parochial school pupils and Maspeth’s admissions lottery.

He said Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir said at the time a clerical error was to blame.

“I suspected something when the principal said to me that parochial students are a problem,” Holden said, noting that students opt out and go to parochial schools, leaving Maspeth with open seats and costing the school funding.

A former teacher at the school visited Holden’s office in late July and three additional former teachers joined a week later, the councilman said.

Though none of the four are still employed at Maspeth — they transferred and are still teaching — Holden said he doesn’t doubt their credibility, saying they supplied a “mountain of evidence” from text messages to exact incidents.

In early August, the lawmaker wrote to Anastasia Coleman, special commissioner of investigation for the city schools.

But eventually he went to the Post and even acting District Attorney John Ryan with the allegations.

“This investigation had to go on the fast track because we were a little over a month away from the start of the school year and I thought these allegations were so serious,” Holden said.

He didn’t like the idea of the SCI investigating the school, saying “That’s the fox watching the hen house to me.”

Department of Education spokeswoman Danielle Filson told the Chronicle, “We take any allegation of academic misconduct very seriously and there are strict protocols in place to ensure complaints are reported, investigated and addressed. These allegations are currently under investigation.”

The Office of Special Investigations is investigating the allegations that were referred by the SCI, a source said, while the DA’s Office confirmed that its Public Integrity Bureau is investigating the allegations.

Abdul-Mutakabbir directed the Chronicle to email its questions to him but did not respond by press time.

Holden said he would have a problem if the administration remained in place.

“Because somebody has evidence you can’t just get rid of the administration, but I think looking at what I looked at in the way of the mountain of evidence, this is kind of clear cut that this is going on,” he said.

Holden said he’s seen teacher blogs with comments such as, “Yeah it’s all over, however Maspeth High School took it to another level.”

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1 comment:

  • Bruce Deitrick Price posted at 4:52 pm on Thu, Sep 19, 2019.

    Bruce Deitrick Price Posts: 0

    It's well known there is a cheating scandal throughout the USA, from K through 12 and throughout college.

    Here's my article on it: https://www.renewamerica.com/columns/bprice/190625

    Also listen to Lee McNulty describe his career in New Jersey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVNC_R260pA

    People in charge obviously prefer cheating. It protects their careers and salaries. So this is a criminal endeavor.

    To get rid of it might require divine intervention. We would have to start over in K with a new message, education is a serious matter, no cheating allowed.

    You see, there's not just a little cheating. There's massive cheating. And the attempts to deal with it are lame and limited.