A year after a group of teachers came forward with evidence of academic fraud at Maspeth High School, officials say the extensive investigation has stalled because of COVID-19 despite damning conclusions.
“Several staff members appear to be in deep trouble. Investigators have substantiated their involvement in the scandal,” a person with knowledge of the findings told The Post.
The probe was nearly complete before Mayor Bill de Blasio shut school buildings in March, sources said.
Whistleblowers described the “Maspeth Minimum,” as teachers and students dubbed the internal policy. They said administrators pressured teachers to pass failing students, give answers during Regents exams, and hold fake classes so kids who skipped class or did no work could get credits — and maintain the school’s stellar 99 percent graduation rate.
Annmarie Creighton, the mother of a former student who spoke to investigators, believes the city is dragging its feet.
If the changes are confirmed, “It would be a very big black eye — not just against Maspeth but the whole New York City school system,” she said.
Creighton, whose son Thomas was a no-show his senior year while struggling with substance abuse, received a diploma six months early. When his parents demanded to see his classwork and exams, Maspeth administrators refused to show anything.
Thomas “laughed” when an investigator finally showed him his transcript, with passing grades for everything from trigonometry to Shakespeare.
“I never took half these classes,” he told investigators.
A current Maspeth teacher said the school continued to use shady practices before the COVID shutdown — including an after-school “humanities” class with 30 students enrolled that rarely met.
“It’s an easy way out,” the teacher said, referring to credits toward graduation.
The whistleblowers first brought evidence to City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens). He denounced what he called Maspeth’s “gangster culture,” in which the administrators threatened to retaliate against staffers who did not fall in line.
Holden immediately alerted de Blasio, asking the city Department of Education to remove Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir pending a probe, but he remained in place.
“We’ve taken these allegations extremely seriously since day one and have devoted substantial resources to this investigation,” City Hall spokeswoman Jane Meyer said. ”We have no tolerance for academic dishonesty and our students deserve better.”
As a new school year nears, Holden sent a letter to de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza urging them to issue a full report.
The DOE’s response: “While we have made significant progress, the investigation is still ongoing, as there have been delays in interviews and document retrieval due to COVID-19.”
Holden told The Post, “The fact that we are approaching a year with no visible discipline whatsoever is a barometer of how corrupt the DOE system has become. Unfortunately cheating is so widespread that it has become the norm and is actually encouraged.”
David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center professor, said the pandemic should not prevent the DOE’s “top-heavy” central administration from performing other duties.
“They need to show that the inaction is not just an excuse to avoid accountability,” Bloomfield said.
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