Ron Isaac’s Commentary: Maspeth High School: Lessons In Corruption

Jul 13, 2021 by

A Department of Education investigation that should have taken two weeks was fast-tracked by them and therefore took only two years. It was stupefyingly strung out for reasons unrelated to the availability of evidence.

Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir, the principal of Maspeth High School, ran a many-faceted, deeply-rooted cheating scandal.  It was massive and it was brazen.  It showed contempt for his students and the concept of merit. 

The DOE is seeking to terminate this fraudster.  At last.

How much longer could they have slept on it without arousing suspicion?  They had to act, as the public-relations fallout could be deferred no longer.  And, by way of footnote, he had egregiously violated the public trust. 

“Our schools must have the highest standards of academic integrity and we are working quickly…”, assured spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon, in much-invoked damage-control mode.

Judging from years of news reports and bloggers’ posts, including testimony from staff members, the substantiation was so voluminous that it could have filled the belly of a C-30 cargo plane.

Abdul-Mutakabbir was principal of Maspeth High School for 10 years.  If the Office of Special Investigations didn’t go back beyond 2019, a reasonable person might hypothesize that it should have. 

There may be rocks not yet turned over.

It was found that this school leader altered grades, gave credit for non-existent courses, awarded advanced Regents Diplomas, and drafted staff members into the illegal disservice of aiding students on crucial state exams.

This may be the tip of an iceberg that was planted in the lowered ocean floor. No wonder Maspeth High School boasted a 99 percent graduation rate and netted the principal a national Blue-Ribbon award and reputation for engineering educational excellence.

Why wasn’t the principal removed from his position, pending a determination, when grave allegations were lodged, as has been the case with many teachers over comparatively trivial matters?

The DOE has always had a dual standard for disciplining supervisors and subordinates.

What is wrong with a system that lures corruption-susceptible principals to submit to the chance to boost their careers by means of fictional success?   Such laurels should be fruitless, but the DOE doesn’t see it that way, or at least that’s the logical perception.

The announced decision to terminate this principal sounds sincere and final, but in the past, such supervisory damaged goods have sometimes discreetly resurfaced “off the radar” with new titles, assignments, and equal pay with less responsibility, occasionally as mentors to other administrators!

The Department of Education is in the intractable habit of mollycoddling grifters, as long as they’re above a certain rank.

A few years ago,  after two decorated former- NYPD detectives were convicted of crimes,  the guilty verdicts of many of the defendants whom they had “brought to justice” by tainted testimony and false witness were thrown out.

The same action should be taken to expunge any adverse entries in the performance quality files of Maspeth High School staff members who were whistleblowers or otherwise resisted the principal’s machinations or possible extortion.

Abdul-Mutakabbirshould indeed should lose his throne at Maspeth High School. Further, he should forfeit his state license and be permanently ineligible for employment as an educator.

And he should be civilly sued by betrayed students, some of whom had the courage to bring abuses to light, even when, by keeping it secret, they might have benefited from the empty flattery of unearned credit. It is worth examining whether “qualified immunity” for the rogue principal should apply in cases of this nature.

Let’s not naively assume that outrages at Maspeth High School were unique and unprecedented.  They are likely happening right now, though probably to a lesser degree, and will likely be replicated and possibly surpassed in the future. 

As long as corrupt principals can afford to pay the price of the exposure of their sins, they will persevere and preclude the system itself from being rehabilitated and chastened.

The record shows what underhanded “school CEO”s  have done, are doing now,  and will do tomorrow.

Ron Isaac

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