By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
An explosive investigative report claims a diploma from Maspeth High School is “not worth the paper on which it was printed”. As reported by the NY Post, the 1,200-student high school allegedly has fake classes, doled out bogus credits, and fixed grades to allow students to graduate without meeting requirements.
The 32-page report released by NYC’s Special Commissioner of Investigation for schools, Anastasia Coleman, says that Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir pressed teachers to pass students. “I don’t care if a kid shows up at 7:44 and you dismiss at 7:45 — it’s your job to give that kid credit,” the principal allegedly told a teacher, adding, even if the diploma is “not worth the paper on which it was printed”. Let students “have fun working at Taco Bell,” he went on.
The teacher reported feeling “threatened, and changed each student’s failing grade to a passing one.” The SCI report points to a culture of cheating at the school as of 2019, in which students skipped classes or missed work, but still passed.
Upon receiving the report on June 4, Chancellor Meisha Porter removed Abdul-Mutakabbir from the school and city’s payroll in July, pending a termination hearing scheduled for next month. Maspeth assistant principals Stefan Singh and Jesse Pachter, however, kept their posts this Fall. The principal’s chief lieutenants had followed the principal’s directives and had helped fabricate classes which gave students credits, though the classes were not even held, the report says. Three of the principal’s favorite teachers, who had been onboard with his directives, also kept their jobs.
Abdul-Mutakabbir, Singh and Pachter all refused to respond to investigators’ inquiries, citing their right to remain silent, as per SCI.
Additionally, the school was accused of other wrongdoing, including contraband cover-up. The SCI found the school did not properly voucher drugs and weapons. “This is more like an organized crime ring than a school administration,” said City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens).
Holden had met with a group of teachers from the school who did not agree with the culture, some of whom had quit rather than comply. In the summer of 2019 meeting, the whistleblowers had forked over stacks of evidence for the corruption.
The city’s Dept. of Education Office of Special Investigations conducted its own probe of the school, but did not release its report. “We did not hesitate to take action at Maspeth High School…and we’re taking action against any employee found to have engaged in misconduct,” DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon said. The assistant principal and some teachers have also been “retrained” and “all of them have gotten a letter in their files.”