For Immediate Release: December 1, 2017
Contact: Rebekah Caruthers, Communications Director: (202) 256-7154; [email protected]

Councilmember Robert White's Statement on Ballou High School Graduation Scandal and Call for an Independent Investigation

Washington, DC—Councilmember Robert White issued the following statement on the Ballou Senior High School graduation scandal.

“The November 28 th WAMU report that Ballou High School’s administration graduated many students who did not meet basic requirements for graduation is a deeply troubling black eye for our public school system. This disturbing circumstance breeds further distrust with parents and the community. This is especially true as the report comes just weeks after The Washington Post uncovered significant errors in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's reporting of PARCC scores for economically disadvantaged students.

I am very concerned that students were pushed out into the world without the tools they need to succeed. I believe we must evaluate the IMPACT teacher evaluation system and whether there is undue pressure to pass and graduate students who do not meet standards. In this circumstance, it is clear that there were deviations from DCPS policy that went beyond the authority of a classroom teacher, indicating a directive from someone in a position of authority to graduate students who had not met DCPS requirements for graduation. It is therefore imperative that we identify with clarity who was responsible for pressuring teachers, principals, or administrators to pass and graduate unprepared students, how widespread the issue is, and whether there was retribution or were threats of retribution for those who did not comply.

I thank Councilmember David Grosso, chair of the Committee on Education of the Council of the District of Columbia, for agreeing to hold an oversight hearing on this issue. I also am happy that Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced an investigation of this report. However, given recent significant misreported data from OSSE and the overlapping roles of OSSE and DCPS, I believe it is not appropriate for OSSE to investigate this matter. The investigation must be undertaken by an outside entity if we hope to restore public confidence in our schools and school leaders and have faith that all issues have been identified and that all responsible parties are held accountable.”