Ballou High School 100% graduation rate being investigated

UPDATE (Dec. 04, 2017): D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced on Monday that, effective immediately, he reassigned Ballou High School principal Dr. Yetunde Reeves to "another function in the district."

Wilson added that Principal Willie Jackson will serve as Acting Principal of Ballou.

“We take this issue very seriously, and we know that policies must be explained clearly and implemented with fidelity. This investigation will restore integrity to the process by providing students, parents, and the broader community with answers,” said Wilson in a statement.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two separate investigations have been launched to look at last year's 100% graduation rate at Ballou High School following a WAMU/NPR report that raised questions that all students were eligible to graduate.

"I don’t know what mistakes were made at Ballou, but I can tell you that the review that we will undertake will determine what exactly happened," said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in response to the report.

One investigation will be conducted by two D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Deputy Chancellors. The other will be conducted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

The WAMU/NPR report said that the school's graduation rate went from 57% to 100% between the 2016 and 2017 grad classes, but of the 164 students who graduated in 2017 many had a high number of unexcused absences. The report said documents reviewed revealed "half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused."

The report added that school policy is that if a student missed 30 days of one class, that student should fail that class and teachers told WAMU they were concerned that students were graduating underprepared for the next step. DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson said that should not be the case.

"When you hear allegations that that may not be the case, it’s extremely important for us to understand it, understand how pervasive that is," added Wilson.

The report added that teachers said they felt pressured to pass these students and they feared poor performance reviews if they did not.

Wilson said the school's principal told him she never required teachers to change grades.

"We need to uncover why it is teachers feel otherwise, how many teachers feel otherwise," added Wilson.

Bowser said the investigations should be completed within 45 days and asked if anyone has information that could assist the investigation to call 202-727-3636.

At-large Councilmember and chair of the council's Education Committee David Grosso said he will hold a public roundtable on the issue on December 15.