Teachers Criticize New York City High School’s Unwritten ‘No-Fail Policy’

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Teachers at Maspeth High School in Queens, New York, say there is an unwritten “no-fail policy” at the high school prohibiting them from flunking their students — even if they don’t show up to class. As a result, the high school has enjoyed a 98 percent graduation rate, and was even awarded a National Blue Ribbon in 2018, an honor that one teacher described as laughable.

Maspeth High School — which was awarded a National Blue Ribbon in 2018 by the Department of Education — has had a 98 percent graduation rate and 90 percent Regents pass rate because the teachers are not allowed to fail their students, according to a report by the New York Post.

Four teachers came forward to tell the Post that the school has an unwritten “no-fail policy” called the “Maspeth Minimum,” which means that every student — including the ones who repeatedly don’t show up to class — will get at least the minimum amount of points needed in order to pass or graduate. No exceptions.

“I didn’t believe in the ‘maspeth minimum’ thing but I almost never showed up to class and vividly remember having multiple 0’s on quizzes I never took,” said one student, according to the Post. “My average was a 45 and then magically turned into a 65 when my report card came in.”

The report added that a staff member affirmed, “teachers are not allowed to fail students.”

“You are called in about kids who are failing. The message is, ‘Make sure you pass them,'” said a teacher. “You know you have to change the grade.”

The following are the allegations that have been raised, according to the Post:

  • Administrators strong-arm and intimidate faculty into passing all students.
  • Fake classes were “taught” last year by Assistant Principals Jesse Pachter and Stefan Singh, teachers charge.
  • [Absent] students for real classes also got a pass.
  • Difficult students are allowed to skip classes and graduate a year early.
  • Teachers proctoring state Regents exams allegedly gave kids answers.
  • School staffers changed wrong test answers to right ones, teachers charged. Some school staffers erased incorrect test answers, which are written in pencil, and corrected them, teachers charged.
  • Administrators turned a blind eye to student dishonesty.

“Kids blatantly copy other students’ homework assignments. Copying and cheating are rampant,” said a teacher to the Post. “If you bring it to the dean, nothing happens. Discipline is laughable. There are no consequences for misbehavior, for disrespecting teachers, or for cheating.”

In 2018, Maspeth High School was awarded a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Education. A Blue Ribbon is the highest honor that the federal government grants to schools.

“It’s a facade,” a teacher said of the school being awarded the Blue Ribbon.

“I had to stifle a laugh,” added another.

The report added that the school’s principal — Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbi — who founded the school in 2011, did not respond to a request for comment.

“The ‘gangster’ culture in the school’s leadership needs to be investigated,” said Queens city councilman Robert Holden to Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, Anastasia Coleman, according to the Post. The report added that Holden noted some of the allegations “could be considered criminal.”

“We take any allegation of academic misconduct very seriously, and there are strict protocols in place to ensure complaints are reported, investigated and addressed,” said Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson. “These allegations are currently under investigation.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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