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Grade-Fixing Scandal at Maspeth HS Causes Teachers to be Ousted for‘Testing Improprieties’

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By:  Serach Nissim

 

The grade-fixing scandal at Maspeth High School in Queens continues to be investigated.

As reported by the NY Post, the Department of Education has ousted five teachers and charged them with “testing improprieties”.

The removed teachers include: Math teachers Daniel Sepulveda and Christopher Grunert; history teachers Justin Lacoff and union chapter leader Keith Powell; and science teacher Nasreen Jawaid. They are currently still on the payroll, pending the disciplinary process.  The DOE also charged Sepulveda with “inappropriate physical force.” The teacher was also a husky wrestling coach, and a video clip has been circulating show him slamming a slender teen to the ground and putting him into a headlock.

The teachers were removed from the classrooms in October following two separate probes, one by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, and one by the Department of Education’s own investigative arm.  The SCI probe’s conclusions confirmed the school was tainted by academic fraud and other breaches.  Two years ago, reports first surfaced about a culture of cheating, and administrators who threatened teachers who refused to pass undeserving students at the highly regarded high school. Kids called it “the Maspeth Minimum.”

The DOE did not publicly expand on the “testing improprieties,” but whistleblowers said some teachers gave kids answers during Regents exams, among other malfeasance.  “As a teacher you should know right from wrong,” said a former colleague of the ousted teachers. “Even if your administration is telling you to do something wrong, you’re supposed to be a leader for your students and do the right thing.”

Back in July, Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir had been ousted from the school, after investigators found he demanded teachers to pass failing students and let them graduate. Abdul-Mutakabbir has been taken off the city payroll, and faces a hearing to determine whether he should be permanently terminated, officials said.  Whistleblowers were still dissatisfied that the DOE had kept assistant principals Stefan Singh and Jesse Pachter in place.

Other teachers said it was Singh and Pachter who “called the shots”, and were instrumental in creating multiple fake classes to give students credits without their even needing to show up.  Teachers who refused to follow the regiment suffered negative reviews and harassment, while those who went with it got rewarded with lucrative overtime jobs, said former teachers who have since left the school.

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