Chancellor Fariña Announces Tough Reforms to Hold Schools Accountable and Ensure Compliance with Academic Rules

  • Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 Updated: Mon Apr 23, 2018

New Regulatory Task Force is a Proactive Approach to Addressing and Preventing Violations of Academic Policies. Independent Third Party Will Sit on the Task Force, and Evidence of Inappropriate Conduct will be Brought to Special Commissioner of Investigation. Increased Academic Policy Trainings for All School Leaders Throughout the Year

NEW YORK — Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced an aggressive new approach to holding schools accountable for adhering to academic policies. Over the years there have been sporadic allegations regarding academic integrity, and this new approach will include the first-ever permanent task force to provide oversight, as well as new training and resources to ensure all schools comply with rigorous policies and standards. An independent third party without ties to the DOE will also sit on the task force, and evidence of inappropriate conduct will be brought to the Special Commissioner of Investigation. Separately, Ernst and Young, LLP will perform tests of the academic data and report its findings to the task force. 

Chancellor Fariña has enforced a zero-tolerance approach to violations of academic integrity. Last month, she removed the principal of Dewey High School for impropriety in the school’s credit recovery program, and she has assigned dedicated staff to review school-level data at the new Borough Field Support Centers. The full-time staff will provide consistent ongoing monitoring of policy implementation and consistent support for schools, a significant change from the past. 

“Schools violating our academic policies are not giving students the education they deserve, and I have zero tolerance for schools flaunting our policies. By creating a Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy and forming dedicated teams to monitor any concerning trends, we are once again sending a clear message that violating academic policies will not be tolerated,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Our policies are non-negotiable, and any inappropriate action will be reported to SCI.” 

The new Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy, which will be led by Phil Weinberg, the Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, will report directly to the Chancellor and produce biannual citywide reports on how well schools are implementing DOE guidelines. Their reviews will include an analysis of issues such as credit recovery and graduation requirements, both retrospective and real-time. The task force will also identify areas where schools may need additional support and trainings. In addition to the citywide review, the DOE’s Office of Academic Policy and Systems and dedicated staff at the Borough Field Support Centers (BFSCs) will track data trends related to academic guidelines. If any office becomes aware of inappropriate actions, it will immediately refer them to the Special Commissioner of Investigation. 

The new approach will also include added supervision, as well as training and ongoing support. Any schools that are struggling to implement policies correctly must develop corrective action plans – in conjunction with BFSC staff – to address and remedy the issues, which must be approved by the superintendent. Superintendents will be held accountable for ensuring that schools are following their corrective action plans. Principals at these schools will also be mandated to attend academic policy trainings. At the same time, we will be providing more trainings to schools so that they are clear about our expectations and policies. These will include: 

  • Trainings for superintendents and BFSC staffs through the year on academic policies
  • Mandatory trainings for principals, hosted by both superintendents and BFSCs, around academic policies
  • Additional training for guidance counselors and school programmers hosted by BFSCs

The full Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy will be composed of: 

  • Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning
  • Alice Brown, Senior Executive Director, Policy and Evaluation
  • Katie Hansen, Senior Director, Academic Policy and Systems
  • Lawrence Pendergast, Director, Borough Field Support Center, Central Field Support
  • Danya Labban, Auditor General
  • External auditor without Department contract

As part of the additional support provided to schools, dedicated staff at the Borough Field Support Centers will be assigned to a specific group of schools and track data trends at those schools with the Office of Academic Policy and Systems, including credit accumulation and graduation requirements. Borough Field Support Centers will follow up directly if schools are not implementing policies correctly and use data about schools and student programs to target support to schools that need the most help. 

“I applaud Chancellor Farina’s initiative to hold schools accountable for adhering to academic policies and standards. The allegations of impropriety by certain school officials shakes the accuracy of data accumulated for the express purpose to help officials pinpoint schools in need of assistance, and sets back efforts to improve the educational performance of our children. As a standing member of the State Assembly committee on Education, I look forward to working with the New York City Department of Education and Chancellor Farina in order to ensure that every student is exposed to the very best educational experience they so deserve,” said Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley.

“As a retired Assistant Principal and former teacher, I know Chancellor Fariña as a stalwart educator with an exceptional reputation and absolutely no tolerance for impropriety. These may not be new problems we are facing but this is proof that the Administration takes academic integrity very seriously. I applaud her vision to create this Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy. This is the right approach at the right time,” said Councilmember Alan Maisel.

"Swift action appears to have been taken by Chancellor Farina to address these recent allegations about cheating," said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm.  "Cheating is an unfortunate but almost predictable outcome when student test scores are used inappropriately to evaluate everything from school grades to teacher evaluations.  I am glad the Chancellor is taking steps to nip this in the bud by creating a task force to further investigate this issue," said NYC Council Member Danny Dromm.

“CHCF congratulates the Chancellor in her efforts to bring uniformity and additional accountability to our school. We strongly believe that principals need the tools and support to improve outcomes for every child and this is a step in the right direction,” said Grace Bonilla, the President and CEO of The Committee for Hispanic Children & Families, Inc. 

“I commend Chancellor Fariña for taking a zero-tolerance approach to violations of the Department of Education’s policies. Far from arbitrary, DOE’s policies are crafted with the genuine intention to provide the best possible education for all NYC children. The creation of a Regulatory Task Force is an important step towards ensuring that these policies are implemented and followed equitably across all five boroughs of our City, so that all of our children receive the education they deserve. The provision of support for schools struggling to adhere to policy is also a critical element of the Chancellor’s reforms, as it emphasizes the partnership that DOE and the City as a whole should strive to maintain with individual schools and communities,” said Councilman Fernando Cabrera. 

"As a former educator, I am happy to hear of the creation of the Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy. I commend the actions of our Chancellor, Carmen Farina who as an educator herself, knows the critical importance of preserving academic integrity and accountability in the education system. Chancellor Farina has been a true reformer, I have witnessed firsthand in my district how the changes she has implemented have gone a long way in supporting our schools and empowering our children. This task force is the first step in addressing a serious problem within the system. Today the administration has shown they have zero tolerance for unethical behavior in our schools because our children deserve no less”, said NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D- Manhattan). 

"Academic integrity must be taken seriously," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). "I am pleased to see the New York City Department of Education taking proactive steps to shine a light on the problem and work toward collaborative and creative solutions. New York City students and their parents should trust that the DOE has prioritized academic rigor and ultimately, achievement." 

“Chancellor Farina's Regulatory Task Force demonstrates commitment to high standards and zero tolerance for impropriety,” said State Senator Martin Golden. 

“As a graduate of Bronx public schools and the Assembly member for the 79thDistrict, which is owed the most Campaign for Fiscal Equity resources in the city, I understand just how crucial a proper education is for the youth in the community. A lot of these young people in the Bronx do not receive the same opportunities that their counterparts in other areas of New York City have because the policies that are meant to help them are not being upheld. Chancellor Farina’s reforms will ensure that New York City schools are held accountable and will provide our most valuable assets, our youth, with the education they deserve. I graduated from P.S. 79, featured in Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. These inequalities can only end with a team of people who care about the children and not themselves. Thank you Chancellor Farina for standing up for the children,” said Assemblyman Michael Blake. 

“I congratulate Chancellor Farina for taking the bull by the horns and communicating clearly and forcefully that New York City takes its obligations seriously and is prepared to act – not just to punish where warranted – but to support and educate school officials so as to ensure compliance and provide accountability. The public’s trust in the process should be enhanced by the inclusion of the services of an outside auditor,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

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