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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Carmengate: The Scandal of Scrubbing, False Claims, and Children Last

Carmen Farina

Fariña appoints pals for ‘tough reform’ amid grade-fixing scandal by Susan Edelman, Yoav Gonen, Bruce Golding

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has appointed a bunch of handpicked cronies to implement so-called “tough reforms” amid a widening grade-fixing scandal exposed by The Post.
Fariña said the $5 million panel was intended to “hold schools accountable” — but all but one of six seats will be filled by high-level Department of Education officials with ties to the embattled chancellor.
“She picked all the people she knew from the system,” one veteran educator said. “It’s so obvious to anybody in the system that it’s business as usual.”
The Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy will be headed by Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Phil Weinberg, whom Fariña personally promoted from principal of the HS of Telecommunication Arts and Sciences in Brooklyn following her appointment by Mayor de Blasio last year. 
Phil Weinberg
“They go back years together,” a source said of Fariña and Weinberg (pictured above).
Last year, Weinberg had to re-organize his office twice within five months, replacing five of the seven top officials he had appointed. He also rewrote the DOE’s Academic Policy Guide, which was supposed to impose stricter rules on the controversial “credit recovery” program for failing students.
“He sees all the data as it comes in. He should be aware of allegations of fraud and mismanagement,” the veteran educator said. “It’s like the fox guarding the hen house.”
The only independent member of the task force will be an as-yet-unnamed “external auditor” whom the DOE said will have no contracts or other ties to the school system.
A Bronx high-school teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, blasted Fariña’s announcement as a desperate effort to appear on top of the spiraling crisis.
“I mean, did she have a choice? She’s getting killed. But ‘task force?’ Really? Come on! . . . It’s the biggest joke,” the source said.
The DOE said planning for the panel began several weeks ago.
But Fariña’s announcement came just two days after a front-page Post report in which Melissa Mejia, 18, admitted graduating from William Cullen Bryant HS in Queens despite getting failing grades in a required course and never taking the final exam.
The next day, Mejia’s teacher told The Post she and other educators felt pressured to pass students even if they’re failing.

And on April 17, The Post exclusively reported on the suicide of Harlem principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, whom officials said had tampered with state-mandated Common Core exams.
Fariña refused to answer Post questions Tuesday about the rampant cheating in her schools.
Of the $5 million annual budget for the new panel, about $4 million will be spent hiring an unspecified number of new DOE employees. Those staffers will be assigned to sift through various educational statistics, searching for red flags that signal violations of DOE rules and regulations.
Each new hire will be responsible for overseeing about 35 of the city’s 1,100 schools, the DOE said.
Another $750,000 will go to accounting giant Ernst & Young, which will also review the data and report its findings to the task force. Last year, Ernst & Young scored a $5 million, three-year contract renewal to audit spending by the School Construction Authority, which Fariña chairs.
Additional reporting by Amber Sutherland

Carmen Farina

New York City Task Force Targets Cheating by Teachers and Principals

The New York City Department of Education said on Tuesday that it would establish a task force to root out cheating by teachers and administrators in city schools, responding to recent episodes and allegations of grade inflation, forged test answers and the passing of students who rarely attended class.
The task force, made up of administrators and auditors, will oversee staff monitoring school data for irregularities, and if they discover anything suspicious it will be reported to the city’s special commissioner of investigation. The group will also supply mandatory training in grading and graduation regulations to principals. 

Carmen Fariña, the city’s schools chancellor

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