Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Investigators Bury Accusations Of Cheating. What Else Is New?
It is not surprising that allegations of academic fraud has risen substantially over the years as schools were under pressure to increase their graduation rate and credit accumulation. However, in far too many cases both were increased by cheating, be it grade changing, bogus credit recovery schemes, or simply giving out free credits. The first time this became a media issue when it was reported by the New York Times back in 2011. However, this problem has been around for almost a decade and I reported as far back as 2008 that the DOE's "credit recovery" program was simply a bogus credit accumulation scheme to artificially boost the graduation rate. What's more disturbing according to Chalkbeat, is that despite the rise in accusations of cheating reported to the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI), the agency only bothered to look at 3 of the 300 academic fraud charges in 2014 and didn't substantiate any of the three! That's correct, SCI didn't find any cheating worthy of filing charges, unbelievable but true. No wonder, whistleblowers who report cheating to SCI believe that its a waste of time. The facts unfortunately bare that out. Some cases were refereed to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and disappeared as favored principals were protected by Tweed and their cases seemed to drag on until the spotlight on their misconduct moved to other issues and the OSI investigation was closed or buried in the depths of Tweed. Already this year, 300 cases of academic fraud were refereed to SCI and they have only decided to look at only 10 of these cases. Any bet they find all 10 unsubstantiated? However, if this was about a teacher you can bet the outcome would be very different.
It certainly appears that the SCI and OSI investigative units aid and abet the academic fraud that has been a problem since the Bloomberg years and continues with Mayor Bill de Blasio. SCI's failure to take whistleblower complaints about cheating seriously and OSI's questionable investigations that are subject to pressure from Tweed, make any investigation suspect. To me, both investigative organizations are corrupt and do not take allegations of academic fraud seriously. Is it any wonder that principals have little fear of getting caught since there appears that the DOE rarely takes any action against them, except when the media presses the issue like at John Dewey High School.
The bottom line is that despite the change in administrations, its still business as usual at the DOE with politically motivated investigations and academic fraud still part of the landscape at the New York city public school system.