Mayor Bill de Blasio was personally alerted to evidence of grade-fixing and fraud at Maspeth High School in mid-August, but ignored pleas to remove the school’s allegedly crooked leaders before the new school year, The Post has learned.
“It was like I had witnessed a crime,” said City Councilman Robert Holden, who demanded to speak with the mayor after meeting whistle-blowing teachers with documents showing a culture of cheating at the highly rated school.
“I wanted him to put it on the fast track. I wanted him to step into this and get those people out,” the Queens lawmaker told The Post.
But the mayor did not act with urgency, Holden charged, prompting him to go public and to meet with acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan, who has launched an investigation.
Maspeth HS, awarded a National Blue Ribbon in 2018 for a near-perfect graduation rate, enforces an unwritten “no-fail policy,” even when kids do little or no work, eight teachers have told The Post.
Assistant principals strong-armed faculty members into passing students no matter what, they said. Some teachers helped kids cheat on Regents exams or fixed wrong answers. Failing grades were changed to a passing 65, which kids call the “Maspeth Minimum.”
Even chronically truant, drug-addled students got diplomas — some of them pushed out the door months early, as former student Thomas Creighton and his parents came forward to confirm. But last week his father, Daniel Creighton, said the family had not heard from any investigators.
“If that doesn’t prove there’s no urgency, I don’t know what does,” Holden said. “Not only did they steal city money meant to provide services, but they stole the education from these students.”
A de Blasio story is not complete without another display of his vulgar arrogance:
After two weeks, when no investigators had contacted him, Holden emailed de Blasio on Aug. 13, a day after the mayor returned from Iowa for his now-defunct presidential campaign.
The subject line: “Need to talk.”
The mayor called back the following evening. Holden went over the litany of alleged misconduct at Maspeth HS, including grade-fixing, Regents rigging, fake classes to give students credits toward graduation, and intimidation of teachers who didn’t play ball.
“They’re gangsters,” Holden said he told the mayor. “They should not be in there one more day.”
But de Blasio seemed more concerned about Holden, a fellow Democrat, going to the press.
“It’s good that you gave it to me, but if you want to be on my team you have to play like a team member,” Holden quoted him as saying.
The mayor noted that Holden was fortunate to speak with him. “You have your district. I have to run the whole city. I’m the big leagues.” he said, according to Holden.