Schools Chancellor: Investigation Into Charges Against Dewey High Principal Takes Time

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The city’s schools chancellor tried to explain Tuesday why the Department of Education has yet to act in response to a grade-fixing scandal at a Brooklyn high school.

It’s a story CBS2’s Marcia Kramer first reported on Monday.

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“Investigations don’t happen overnight,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said.

That was Farina’s explanation for a nearly four-month delay in stopping an alleged grade-fixing scandal at John Dewey High School, a controversy that prompted infuriated teachers to blow the whistle on a so-called “easy pass” scam. Teachers said it was a scheme by the principal to inflate graduation rates. In some cases, students were said to be allowed to play a computer game or watch a movie like Jurassic Park to change a failing grade.

One teacher, who asked to be disguised out of fear of being fired, was stunned by the delay.

“Frustrated, unprotected, vulnerable and it made me feel as though I’m working in a system that doesn’t care,” the teacher said.

The educator was one of 10 teachers at Dewey who risked their careers to meet with investigators on Dec. 3. The teacher said detailed records were turned over.

“We gave them hundreds of names of students,” the teacher said.

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What has the teachers most upset is that their charges are being investigated internally by the Department of Education and not by the school system’s independent special commissioner of investigations, Kramer reported.

“In some respects I feel that it is the fox guarding the hen house,” the teacher said.

Kramer tried to get answers from the chancellor before she toured an upper Manhattan school on Tuesday.

“We don’t play lightly with these issues, but they take time, especially if there is more than one point of view,” Farina said.

Kramer asked the schools chancellor if she’s troubled by the accusations.

“If it’s true, of course, but at this moment I really am holding my … until the investigation is done I will make no judgments,” Farina said.

So now the teachers wait, wondering if the chancellor’s failure to act will allow more to graduate in June on the “easy pass” plan, Kramer reported.

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The grade-fixing case comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are wrangling over just how best to fix failing schools.