ugg boots slippers among Ballou HS audit findings
In that joint NPR/WAMU November 2017 report, journalists had revealed a culture of grade changing to increase graduation rates at Frank W.
The report also revealed more than half of Ballou’s 2017 graduates were passed despite extensive absences they should not have graduated. law firm, Alvarez and Marsal found that of the 177 students who graduated from Ballou last school year, 113 of them or 63.8 percent had ‘graduated with the assistance of these policy violations.’ The law firm states the 113 students benefited from a total of 222 policy violations.
In this report, ‘policy violations’ were identified as actions like giving a student a grade of 50 percent on assignments they may have missed or did not complete. Another portion of the report says the school’s Principal and Assistant Principals were involved.
“Ballou administrators communicated high passing percentage expectations to teachers. These expectations were communicated directly to teachers from the Principal to the Assistant Principals in person, via staff meetings, and via email, and were formalized in the Ballou IMPACT rubric,” the report reads.
DC’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson and Hanseul Kang, the DC State Superintendent of Education, discussed the findings at a Tuesday City Hall news conference. At one point in the questioning portion of the news conference, Mayor Bowser became defensive.
Her reaction was over repeated questions circling around accountability.
If whistleblowers made their complaints to higher ups in July and August, why did it take nearly 6th months and a damaging joint NPR WAMU Radio report to get a response from the DCPS Chancellor?
The Mayor answered with a frustration over current policy in place to report labor issues and check student records.
“Let’s be clear about what I said,” said Mayor Bowser, “it didn’t work. It didn’t get to the decision maker and that’s what we had to fix, and that’s what we have to focus on fixing”
Chancellor Wilson was tasked by the Mayor to address this district wide.
In another portion of the news conference, Mayor Bowser told reporters, “We rolled out a policy in the 2015 2016 school year intended to raise the bar in our school district (academically) and ensure students were set up for success.” However, the Mayor went on to say, “but we’ve never really put in place the training controls or accountability to support it.”
RELATED: ‘It really hurts’ Teachers reveal details about Ballou graduation scandal
A WUSA9 reported referenced this and asked, “Are you saying then, that this is your fault?”
“I’m saying that we could’ve we should’ve done a better job,” replied Mayor Bowser.
Chancellor Wilson, answering questions on when he first learned of complaints, told Reporters he does not recall a conversation regarding Ballou accusations with DC Councilmember Robert White.
“It’s alarming to know some of the findings in this report,” said Ward 8 Councilman, Trayon White.
White is a graduate of Ballou and expressed deep concerns for the students of Ballou.
“I think if people are talking about your school across the nation through media, sometimes it’s a negative perception. So if you’re trying to go to college, or you’re trying to get a job and that’s on your transcript, uh, you think that, ‘Maybe I won’t get in because of negative stereotypes related my school.’ So we must continue to show that there are great students coming out of Ballou Senior High School,” White said.
“He’s not going back to Ballou to graduate,” said a woman named Camilla Richburg who had just missed the news conference at City Hall.
Richburg said she had wanted to be there to show support for Ballou’s Principal and believes there’s even more to this issue that’s being told.
Angry, Richburg said, “They treating it like it’s politics. These are people’s this is real life. People’s livelihoods. People, kids, teachers (are) upset and they want us to go in there and want them kid to go in there and work and do tests? No, that doesn’t work.”
DC School leaders were also asked about teacher bonuses attained at Ballou based on performance and whether that would be reviewed. The report says this metric makes just one of the five metrics that contributes to CSC evacuations and that CSC accounts for a small portion of the teacher evaluation. Administrators do not believe bonuses will be impacted.
Ballou’s Principal, Dr. Yetunde Reeves was removed from her school leadership position after Mayor Bowser ordered the independent audit. School administrators would not say whether she will be fired. They did tell reporters HR is in communication with her and that they are seeking a new Principal for Ballou.
School administrators said Ballou’s Assistant Principal will remain in place.
Alvarez and Marsal said the next portion of the audit will include it’s District wide findings. We’re told schools under investigation will have been visited by the week of January 15th.