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Erich Martel, retired veteran teacher in D.C. school system, wrote a public letter calling for a thorough investigation of graduation rates in all D.C. high schools, including charters, and for the reinstatement of the whistleblower teachers who were fired at Ballou High School. You may recall that NPR ran a story about the miraculous graduation rate and college acceptance rate at Ballou. After a teacher came forward and pointed out that students with numerous absences from school and inadequate credits were allowed to graduate, NPR investigated and corrected the earlier story. The underlying story was about gullible reporters wanting to believe in miracles.
Council Member David Grosso
Chairman, Committee on Education, Council of the District of Columbi
Dear Chairman Grosso,
Today’s Washington Post article on the investigation into the Ballou H.S. graduation scandal reports that “a group of [Ballou H.S.] teachers met with D.C. Public School officials” the day after the June 2017 graduation to report that “students who missed dozens of classes had been able to earn passing grades and graduate.” https://tinyurl.com/yc37lerj
A month later, music teacher Monica Brokenborough wrote to Chancellor Antwan Wilson requesting a “thorough investigation … inclusive of pertinent stakeholders,” but never heard back from him. The Washington Post has evidence that Ms. Brokenborough, the WTU representative “tried time and again to reach district officials about her concerns” resulting in the principal cutting her position from the school budget this year.
Chancellor Antwan Wilson conceded at your December 15th Education Committee hearing that effort “he and other officials did not look into it until the November airing of a WAMU and NPR news report.” His words of acknowledgement were chilling:
“‘We know that there was a Ballou teacher who in August complained through the grievance procedure about concerns along with 30 other concerns,’ Wilson said at the hearing. ‘Our team, prioritizing impact [IMPACT???], had not gotten to it.’”
Will you request that Mayor Bowser immediately instruct Chancellor Wilson to reinstate whole all Ballou teachers who reported these violations and were subsequently terminated/excessed by the principal?
On the December 8th Kojo Nnambi show, you stated,
“I think it is unfair to focus only on Ballou H.S. in this situation. Ballou HS has some wonderful things going on there that we need to celebrate.”
“I’m saying it just frustrates me that this is always going to come down on Ballou.”
“To pick on Ballou alone is unfair. … But let me tell you, that’s not the only place where students are leaving high school not ready for college in the District of Columbia.”
The current investigation appears to be focused solely on Ballou H.S., but I haven’t heard of you requesting that it include all DCPS and charter high schools.
Will you request that Mayor Bowser expand the investigation to all DCPS AND all DC charter high schools?
I look forward to your response.
Ward 3, Retired DCPS high school teacher (Cardozo HS, Wilson HS, Phelps ACE HS)