A Bronx school in New York is under investigation for allegations of credit irregularities that could threaten some students' abilities to graduate this year.
The New York Department of Education is examining Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers and its principal, Sharron Smalls for alleged credit padding -- by giving students credits for classes they didn't take -- by "double dipping" and crediting students for two courses when they only took one.
"Clearly, there's an agenda of credit accumulation, and it certainly plays into this," Jane Addams math teacher told The New York Times. "There's tremendous pressure to get students to graduate, but what has to be understood is that they've got to graduate the right way, according to the standards of New York State. And the principal made it a point to break the rules."
Jane Addams is an F-rated school, and has long struggled with academic performance and low graduation rates. And as school administrators grappled with bringing it up from the bottom through alleged unorthodox tactics, some of the city's most troubled students are paying the price.
Students are confused about how many credits they need to graduate, The New York Times reports. About half of the school's 200 students are short on required math and science credits. Students received geography credits for tourism classes and chemistry credits for cosmetology courses, the New York Daily News reports. The school doesn't have a chemistry teacher.
"They put me in cosmetology because we don't have chemistry," 16-year-old senior Clarissa Williams told The New York Times. "This could really affect me, my graduation -- I wanted to go to NYU for criminal justice. Now I don't know if I'll graduate."
Small remains on the job as principal through the investigation, CBS New York reports. She received some of the lowest marks of any administrator in the Bronx this year on a survey filled out by teachers.
Education Department spokesperson Margie Feinberg tells the Daily News that agency officials are working with the school to examine transcripts and rework schedules so students can obtain required coursework towards graduation. Investigators are also looking into several allegations against other school officials.
The school's consistently low performance on citywide school report cards had city officials "considering phasing it out and providing students with better options," according to a Education Department statement.
In October, the city's Education Department released its High School Progress Reports for the year, which revealed a 15 percent decrease in high schools earning an A. This year, 3.6 percent of the city's schools received an F.
News of Jane Addams' credit irregularities comes on the heels of another investigation in Dallas, where an elementary school that was given "exemplary" status for academic achievement was discovered to have only taught its 3rd graders reading and math last year. School administrators fabricated scores for every student in other subjects like social studies and science.
Field Elementary School Principal Roslyn Carter is on paid leave and under investigation because she allegedly "directed and caused false school records to be created" so that teachers could focus on student excellence in reading and math -- the only subjects 3rd graders are tested on for the state-wide standardized exams. Student performance on those exams helps determine a school's status.