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Sunday, January 26, 2020

NYC Councilman Richard Holden Exposes Corruption and Fraud at the NYC Department of Education

New York City Councilman Robert Holden (pictured above) is exposing the massive grading fraud in New York City's public schools. The NY POST reported on Jan. 26, 2020 that Holden believes there is “an apparent pattern of conspiracy to cover up grade-fixing, cheating and other wrongdoing [which might] warrant an investigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which covers criminal enterprises."

We the general public certainly know from reading many websites, blogs and newspapers for at least the past decade that our public school kids in NYC are being robbed of a free and appropriate education. It's about time that our political leaders not only took notice of this fraud, but did something about it.

See my post on my website published in 2004:
Silencing Opposition: Education Policy Implementation Becomes a Matter of National Security
Teachers who speak up are fired at 3020-a, discontinued from probationary service, and/or taunted and harmed in many other ways, all because the NYC Department of Education believes in retaliation, mobbing, extortion, and bullying. It's all about the VIPs of the Department, in all agencies - Schools' District Superintendents, Office of Special Investigations, (OSI) Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), Office of Personnel Investigations (OPI), Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) and Teacher Performance Unit (TPU) - see here as well - 3020-a panels' Directors, General Counsel to the Chancellor, Office of Parent Engagement, and all the sub-agencies on the NYC DOE payroll - who must agree with the following secret policies:

1. If the school wrong-doing is jeopardized by anyone who may blow the whistle, charge the whistleblower with anything you want and you will be backed up with "proof", provided by staff at the Office of Legal Affairs;

2. Never admit that the Department did anything wrong;

3. Pin any scandal on your school's weakest link - i.e. a staff member who does not speak English well or at all, a  staff member or educator who has done something in his/her past which could look bad for him/her if exposed, a staff member or educator who has a medical condition or sick spouse/relative who must take time off, etc.;

4. Make up what you need if you have no facts, then arrange with administrators how you will be given immunization, witnesses to support your lies, documents which need to be back-dated.

I know the facts behind the list above because I have worked on cases which are based upon one or all of the above. My suggestion is that you NEVER go to any of the agencies or personnel cited above, except OPI which is the "problem Code" office. See this post:

The New York City Department of Education's "Problem Code" is an Unlawful Flag on an Employee's Fingerprints

If you file a complaint with OEO, OSI or SCI, you will be the one they investigate.

For instance,

David Suker is a fearless and outspoken teacher who was charged with 3020-a for allegedly lying about his home address in order to get his daughter into a school on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He was terminated at his 3020-a, which I did not work on (he had a NYSUT Attorney), but he asked me to help him with an Appeal, and I did. I knew that the Department had only 30 days to investigate his address - which, by the way, was not a lie) but they waited 10 years to charge him with a "crime" (see numbers 1 and 4 on the list above).. After winning the Appeal the City filed an Appeal with the First Department, and David ultimately won a settlement of $250,000. The Department's lack of proof lost the day for them, but boy, did they try.

Here is another couple of cases of retaliation:

At the 3020-a hearing offices, Arbitrator Philip Maier was appointed to hear the case of Alan Herz wherein Alan was charged with misconduct. Mr. Maier is an exceptional arbitrator, but the investigators did not submit a report substantiating the charges within the required time, and therefore could not use any of the report to support the charge. Mr. Maier dismissed the 3020-a charges at the pre-hearing. Then, all hell broke loose. The NYC Department of Education, represented by taxpayer funded the Corporation Counsel, sued both Philip Maier and Alan Herz for dismissing the charges. Both Mr. Maier and Mr. Herz discussed with me their disgust for the Department's absurd retaliation. The NYC DOE lost their case. Mr. Maier was fired from the 3020-a panels in New York City.

A  Guidance Counselor was charged with 3020-a for changing grades of graduating seniors at DeWitt Clinton High School, following a meeting with Principal Santiago Taveras who told her to look at a student's grades and "fix them", but she refused.  I assisted the GC at her 3020-a, and we won the case. Mr. Taveras was moved to a new position at the NYC DOE, higher up in the ladder of importance than he was previously:

Santiago ("Santi") Taveras is Demoted/Removed as Principal at DeWitt Clinton High School For Misconduct, But Gets a Higher Salary. Payoff?

Another example is the many people who have cited the NYC DOE for retaliation at PERB, won the case, and then receive a Notice which the DOE is supposed to post in his or her school and all other schools for 30 days. The DOE hides these Notices so that no one sees them. See Maguerite Bagarozzi's Notice here (received after she had a 3020-a, and paid a fine of $2000.00):

And then we also have the massive grading fraud in Maspeth High School:

Maspeth High School dean who allegedly helped kids cheat is removed
By Susan Edelman, NY POST, January 25, 2020

Danny Sepulveda
A Maspeth High School math teacher and dean who students say gave them answers on Regents exams and texted with them has been removed, The Post has learned.

Danny Sepulveda was escorted out of the Queens school in late December “due to an ongoing investigation,” the city Department of Education confirmed.
DOE officials said the investigation was “unrelated to academic fraud.”
But Sepulveda, 30, is one of several teachers who gave kids answers during Regents exams, according to statements given to investigators.
One student wrote last year that Sepulveda re-read the questions at the end of the exam: “But while he was reading it he was only saying the right answer choice, and this made me uncomfortable because it showed he didn’t believe in me to pass the exam.”
Another student wrote that during a math Regents exam in June 2018, Sepulveda and math teacher Chris Grunert “helped me and other kids in my room with answers.”
Grunert and others accused of academic misconduct have not been removed from the school.
In texts to a fellow teacher, Sepulveda defended the practice of giving kids answers, arguing it protects their futures.
“Having someone fail and not graduate HS because of a state exam that colleges never look at is more of a failure than anything else. I look at state tests as the anti-christ,” Sepulveda wrote.
He also wrote, “You don’t get it, man … It’s different here. It’s different because I’m not going to not even give these kids a shot at the real world because they didn’t pass HS. That’s ridiculous.”
During last week’s Regents exams, the DOE let Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir and two assistant principals — all under investigation — administer and proctor the tests.
The DOE said it sent “test monitors” to Maspeth as a precaution. “There were no reports of cheating,” a spokeswoman said.
In a letter to Councilman Robert Holden, who also raised concerns about the Regents exams, the DOE said it has “trained” Maspeth personnel. Among instructions, employees were told not to “give students any clues or answers.”

Sepulveda also texted frequently with students during the school day, insiders said.
Among multiple text exchanges turned over to investigators, a student repeatedly asks Sepulveda if he can come to his office.
“I won’t do anything stupid anymore, from here on out. Your’e always good to me and I don’t wanna make you look bad. I’m sorry,” the student says.
Sepulveda replies, “You know your’e my guy. Just let me be able to hype you up again.”
Academic fraud at Maspeth High School is one of the complaints that led to the feds now looking into allegations of systemic cheating at city schools.
From Betsy:
I suggest a good read for anyone interested in the corruption of the Department, formerly the Board of Education: the groundbreaking study of the NYC Board of Education by James Gill, titled "The Gill Commission Report" and his subsequent document "Investigating the Investigators"., both published in 1990. In 2009 I could not find them anywhere online, so I went to the Municipal Library at 31 Chambers Street, where the librarian, Paul, agreed to copy both reports for me for free on his private Xerox machine. Thanks to him, these reports are available on my website and blogs.

The NYC Department of Education is a cesspool of people out for revenge. Be vigilant.

By Susan Edelman, NY POST, January 25, 2020 

The feds have started looking into allegations of widespread academic fraud in New York City schools, a Queens lawmaker says.

City Councilman Robert Holden met this month with officials in the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York after his call for a federal probe of “deep-rooted fraud” in the city Department of Education.
“I’m encouraged by my meeting with the US Attorney. His team is taking this seriously,” Holden told The Post.

FBI agents have already contacted several whistle-blowing teachers whose names he provided, Holden added.
A spokesman for US Attorney Richard Donoghue declined comment.

Holden sent a letter in November to Donoghue in Brooklyn and US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, saying “an apparent pattern of conspiracy to cover up” grade-fixing, cheating and other wrongdoing might warrant an investigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which covers criminal enterprises.
In Atlanta, eight educators were convicted under a RICO statute of manipulating student test scores and sentenced to prison in 2015.

Holden turned over records compiled by former and current faculty members at Maspeth High School in Queens, where teachers say administrators encouraged cheating on exams, enforced a “no-fail policy,” and retaliated against staffers who didn’t play ball.
Meanwhile, Holden and The Post received additional whistle blower-letters from anonymous “investigative staff” with the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools.

A similar letter sent last summer said SCI was sitting on cases alleging waste or misconduct by Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chancellor Richard Carranza and other “high-level executives,” to protect them. Special Commissioner Anastasia Coleman denied the accusation.

The new letter blasts Coleman for a “numbers game” — boosting stats with minor cases rather than focusing on more serious misconduct and systemic corruption, in an effort to make herself look good.

For instance, the letter says, SCI in 2019 launched a probe of a DOE employee “seen urinating in public a few blocks from a school.”
The case was assigned to “Team 1,” an elite unit that is supposed to probe sexual contact between staff and students.

The team was also burdened with cases in which administrators “merely forgot to check a box” in submitting a complaint.
“While SCI is doing more work, the quality of the cases being pursued is zero-to-none, and cases that are systematic in nature or that do show major fraud can’t be worked on because of a lack of resources or time,” the letter says.

It also complains that SCI lawyers “have taken up to 300 days or more” to review and close cases — leaving DOE employees in limbo even if accusations are unsubstantiated.
What’s more, SCI has started closing cases “in-house” rather than sending reports to the DOE, the Conflicts of Interest Board or other agencies, to cover up the delays — and avoid making them subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law.

Councilmen Mark Treyger, education committee chairman, and Ritchie Torres, investigations and oversight chairman, have said they plan to hold a hearing on SCI’s performance and effectiveness next month.
“It’s increasingly apparent that we need an investigation to investigate the investigators,” Holden said.

Coleman did not respond to the allegations. “SCI will not comment on pending matters or internal deliberations and office management,” the agency said in a statement.
De Blasio spokeswoman Jane Meyer said the city has not received notice of a federal investigation.

“We take allegations of cheating very seriously, and immediately after these allegations were brought to our attention this summer, we reported them to SCI,” Meyer said in a statement Sunday. “The DOE has not received notice of any federal investigation, but will cooperate fully with any investigation they undertake.”