NYC school accused of changing grades

October 7, 2009 3:10:02 PM PDT
A Queens school is under fire Wednesday, accused of promoting failure. PS 147 is under investigation for allegedly passing students who should have failed. Now, one teacher has come forward with shocking allegations. And the question is being asked, is there a bigger problem in our education system?

"Some kids were missing 10 to 20 days," former PS 147 teacher Darren Johnson said. "Some kids were late 50, 60 times...Homework? It never got done."

The former math teacher says the situation was so atrocious in his seventh-grade class .that there were some students, seven of them, in his opinion, who should have failed. In fact, he did fail them, giving them a grade of 55 on their report cards. That is, until he says the grades were mysteriously changed to a 65 after he was pulled out of the classroom.

"Mysteriously, the last day of school, when I'm not with my class, they came up to me and said, 'Mr. Johnson, we got 65s. I thought you were going to fail us,'" Johnson said.

Johnson has since resigned, but he speaks about a problem that he sees as far beyond this particular school. The bigger problem, he says, is principals and administrators who are more concerned with image than the needs of the kids. Now, those issues spilled over into the city's mayoral race, with candidate Bill Thompson showing up at PS 147.

"Teachers and administrators all across the city feel pressure to make changes, to change things, because that's the only measure, that's the way they're being judged," Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Johnson insists the reason his students got promoted was because his administrators didn't want to pay for summer school.

"The assistant principal, Ms. Cox, and the principal, Ms. Cohen, stated that we need to find some way to pass these kids because we're not having summer school at our school, and we don't want to pay other schools to have our kids in their school," he said.

And as the Department of Education now investigates, many parents want answers as well.

"I will be questioning if this is actually what is going on," parent Michelle King said.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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