State-appointed administrators have scheduled a press conference Monday morning to boast about improved conditions at Newark’s Barringer High School–but they may be facing questions instead about both a cheating scandal and an unexpectedly low number of seniors graduating from the school’s “STEAM Academy,” one of two schools operating in the building.
Although administrators from central headquarters, led by Brad Haggerty, an assistant superintendent, were hoping to control access by the press to carefully selected employees and students, a group of parents hopes also to tell reporters that the troubled high school, the city’s oldest, still doesn’t have adequate supplies, furniture–and is now gripped in reports of a scandal that may spread to at least two other high schools.
According to documents obtained by this site, members of the Newark school board and top central office administrators have been informed that a Barringer student photographed pages from the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) and sent copies to students at Malcolm X. Shabazz and Weequahic High School. The student was identified in an email sent to the central office administrators.
The HSPA is the state’s high school graduation test; this is the last year it will be used.
One document also suggests that a staff member at Barringer may have assisted the student, but the school’s testing coordinator informed officials at 2 Cedar Street, the headquarters of the state administration. They decided a re-test would not be needed. Parents are asking school board members whether the state Department of Education was informed of the security breach.
The incident allegedly occurred January 29.
According to parents who have seen it, school board president Rashon Hasan has indicated in an email that he would conduct an investigation of the allegations and have a response by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, parents and community activists are demanding that top local officials respond to other complaints about conditions at Barringer, a school that has been the center of turmoil since the new school year opened.
Chief among the complaints is the report that only 41 seniors–out of 138–may be eligible to graduate in time this year.
“We want the school to conduct a new credit audit to determine how many of the children will be able to receive diplomas,” said Wilhelmina Holder, president of Newark Secondary Schools Council.
She said parents want solutions to these problems:
(1) lack of developmental support for
(2) lack of resources, materials and supplies
(3) lack of highly qualified educators (substitutes still rule the day)
(4) lack of technology support
(5) no certified guidance counselors
(6) no authentic credit audit done to date
(7) senior status unknown (only 41 on track to graduate) parents not notified
(8) students still without appropriate resources
(9) Students continue to fight daily-Dominicans & African Americans –last fight last week (video can be provided)
(10) Principal has not had a faculty meeting during this school year.
“We see this press conference as a publicity stunt, part of an effort to make the central office look good,” said Holder.
“But the children have been suffering all year and they continue to suffer.”