ABC7 News DC has released portions of an audio recording depicting DC Public School administrators discussing the system’s unlawful student “pass and promote” process.
The nearly half an hour recording was captured as part of a Washington Teacher’s Union grievance, according to sources, and captured officials telling teachers to pass failing or habitually absent students.
A November 2015 meeting, secretly recorded by an employee, starts with Roosevelt STAY High School Principal Eugenia Young recalling a meeting she had with DC Public School administrators, including then-chancellor Kaya Henderson. Young claims DCPS Central Office told her to find a way to pass those students despite D.C. law.
“We basically were ripped a new a-hole as principals. So that means that I have to come and not rip you guys a new one, but I think I have to come in and be very firm,” said Young. “And it wasn’t a conversation, it was like, what was told to us, ‘You all suck. You all suck as principals,’ which means your teams are not doing what they need to do because, right now, our promotion rate to the next grade is horrible which will affect our graduation rate. And you all know we move four points or five points this past year, the chancellor wants to move seven points.”
In the audio, which ABC7 chose not to release in full, one by one, teachers can he heard listing students they said would fail due to absences or grades.
“And I’m saying, ‘You’re not here, you got 20 absences, okay well, we’re going to fail you anyway.’ I know that’s been the system, and just like you’re sitting here with your head blown off saying, ‘you’re flipping the switch on me,’ that’s the same thing that I said. What they said to me was, we have the right to flip the switch. I said, ‘you know what? You’re exactly right.’ So let me figure it out with my team,” said Young. “Here’s the thing: we have to pass and promote. If we are not then what are we here for? I’m sitting in a meeting to tell the chancellor you’ve got to give me more resources. I can’t sit in the meeting with the chancellor and I’m with big stats in red.”
Some teachers resisted during the meeting, saying despite their constant efforts with tutoring and chasing down students in hallways, some students did not deserve to pass.
“When you say we have to pass and promote, I think all of us are we are all professional, we know that’s why we are here. But that makes me feel like we are just going to create this diploma mill,” said one teacher in the recording.
After this conversation, a superintendent’s audit uncovered that 61 percent of students graduating from Roosevelt STAY High School last year shouldn’t have—they had too many absences. At the beginning of this school year, Young was moved to the higher-performing Eliot-Hine middle school in Northeast Washington.
Young and Henderson declined requests for comment, reports KABC7.