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John Dewey principal fired over grade-fixing report

Brooklyn Daily
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This principal got all Fs — as in fudged, fixed, and now — fired.

John Dewey High School principal Kathleen Elvin will lose her job over a report showing that she oversaw a bogus program that gave failing students a free pass, falsely boosting the Gravesend school’s stats.

Elvin — who took over the school in early 2012 with a mandate to turn it around — implemented fraudulent “credit recovery” programs designed boost graduation rates by giving passing grades to failing students, according to a 22-page report from the Office of Special Investigations released on July 8. The report also found fault in Elvin’s administration of Regents mathematics examinations.

“The results of the investigation are disturbing and show there was a failure to follow the DOE’s protocol during the 2013-2014 school year,” said schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.

The report also implicated two assistant principals, Andrew Kenney and Joseph Antonucci, both of whom will be disciplined for their role. Kenney took part in programming the courses for the programs, while Antonucci told a teacher to “grade based purely on attendance,” according to the report.

Credit recovery programs are intensive classes that allow students to make up credits for classes they have failed.

The investigation, which concerned only the 2013-14 school year, began after complaints that students who enrolled in two of Dewey’s credit programs — called PM School and Project Graduation — were receiving credit for passing while not receiving any instruction.

Classes offered through the programs were labeled as “interdisci­plinary courses,” which according to the High School Academic Policy Reference Guide combine “learning standards from two different content areas in a single course.” But the programs in question covered “far more than two content areas … making appropriate academic instruction possible,” according to the report.

“Ms. Elvin was unable to articulate in any detail the manner in which students received targeted, intensive instruction,” the report said. “Ms. Elvin failed to supervise Mr. Kenney and the teachers at her school by allowing the courses to be programmed in a way that instruction could not be provided.”

The Department of Education will hold a training program this summer for all superintendents and principals to ensure that credit recovery programs are handled properly in the future.

“Ensuring every New York City student is meeting the high-quality standards necessary to graduate is an imperative,” said Farina, “and we are retraining principals across the city to ensure these standards are upheld.”

The report also notes that students taking the June 2014 Integrated Algebra Regents exam were forced to share calculators due to an unexplained shortage. Schools are required to provide graphing calculators to students for the exam. Investigators found Elvin responsible for failing to ensure that the exam was “administered in accordance with New York State Education Department rules and regulations.”

Elvin could not be reached for comment.

The Department of Education said that complaints of a similar nature regarding the 2014-15 school year should be reported to the Office of Special Investigations, but the Daily News reported that staffers said the schemes continued throughout the most recent school year, as well.

Connie Hamilton, currently the principal of Kingsborough Early College School, will be the new principal at Dewey. She is evaluating the transcripts of this year’s recent graduates who were enrolled in the suspect credit recovery courses, and plans to have them attend summer programs if necessary.

Reach reporter Eric Faynberg at (718) 260–2508 or by e-mail at efaynberg@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ericfaynberg.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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