SCI calls for change at Maspeth High 1

The Special Commissioner of Investigation has made numerous recommendations after looking into a half dozen administrators and faculty members at Maspeth High School.

A scathing 31-page report is calling for massive structural changes in the administration at Maspeth High School following an investigation into grade inflation, awarding of improper class credit and other complaints.

But as of now, only former Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir is facing serious disciplinary action.

The report, given to Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in June and made public on the website of the Special Commissioner for Investigation for the New York City School District last month, is the most recent development in a case initiated two years ago when whistleblowers within the MHS community began bringing their concerns to Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village).

Among the allegations were that at least one teacher provided answers to a student during a Regents exam.

Others were accused of improperly accounting for seized contraband such as drugs and weapons. The report also said students with behavioral or attendance problems were pushed to accept early graduations; and that school officials were improperly assigning “per session” assignments to teachers that come with monetary stipends or collected pay for classes or assignments not carried out.

The report is available online at nycsci.org/reports.

The first paragraph of the report states that the investigation has substantiated that Abdul-Mutakabbir, Assistant Principals Stefan Singh and Jesse Pachter and teachers Daniel Franchese, Christopher Grunert and Daniel Sepulveda “committed various acts of malfeasance.” It also claims to have substantiated that Sepulveda, the school wresting coach, assaulted a much smaller student “in a non-instructional manner.”

None of the teachers or assistant principals agreed to meet with investigators.

“We did not hesitate to take action at Maspeth High School as soon as the SCI report was completed,” the Department of Eduction said in an email to the Chronicle. “Our schools must uphold the highest ethical standards, and we’re taking action against any employee found to have engaged in misconduct.”

A DOE source said contrary to the SCI report that there were no substantiated findings against Singh, Pachter, Franchese and Grunert, but that all had disciplinary meetings; all have gotten a letter in their personnel files, and all have undergone retraining in things such as proper record keeping.

Sepulveda still could face additional actions.

Holden told the Chronicle Tuesday he greeted the report with mixed feelings.

“I just think there’s more to uncover, because some of the teachers and assistant principals refused to be interviewed,” Holden said. “You can only go so far. ... And this is not unique to Maspeth High School. It is systematic throughout the Department of Education.”

Holden repeatedly has accused Mayor de Blasio and former Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza of sitting on the matter from the time he brought whistleblowers’ concerns to them — personally — two years ago. A college professor for more than four decades, Holden said the term grade inflation does not nearly cover what he believes has happened.

“You’re stealing kids’ futures,” he said.

He has asked District Attorney Melinda Katz to investigate, as he did her predecessor, Richard Brown. He also has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn for help.

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