D.C. Lawmakers Scrutinize City School System’s Fake News Graduation Rates

Heather Curtis

WASHINGTON (WMAL) – Ballou High School’s been under investigation since news broke last year that half the school’s 2016-2017 graduates missed three months of school. One in five students who graduated last year missed more than 90 days of school according to records obtained by NPR. The District’s education committee will review two investigations into how these students were allow to graduate at an oversight roundtable meeting Thursday morning. One is an internal investigation done by D.C. Public Schools, and the other is an independent investigation done by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education.

“That’s the challenge that we have before us, is how do we instill a love of learning and welcome students into the classroom and make school a place that they want to be?” education committee chair David Grosso said at a breakfast with the mayor Jan. 30.

The initial report done by the office of the State Superintendent of Education said administrators told teachers at Ballou to let students who missed a lot of school do makeup work so they could graduate.

“They [teachers] don’t want to rock the boat because the culture, it’s almost totalitarian from the central office,” D.C. Council member Mary Cheh said at the breakfast.

Since the news broke about the graduation scandal, Ballou’s principal Yetunde Reeves was reassigned, and Assistant Principal Shamele Straughter was placed on administrative leave.

The release of the graduation reports also prompted the FBI and the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General’s Office to open investigations according to the Washington Post.

Thursday’s meeting will examine an internal investigation of Ballou’s graduation scandal that was conducted by the city school system and an outside consultant.

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