Flushing HS put students in online courses to meet graduation rate

By Madina Toure

Flushing High School allegedly enrolled 150 students in online courses to meet its 60 percent graduation rate goal, according to a published report.

Students at Flushing HS at 35-01 Union St., one of 94 schools in the city Department of Education’s School Renewal Program for struggling schools, were allegedly enrolled in Apex Learning online courses, the New York Post reported.

Flushing HS and Apex Learning could not be reached for comment.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), who once taught at Flushing HS, said she was unaware of the allegations but that if they are true, she is “horrified,” stating that the school is contracting out students’ education and preventing them from learning.

“First thing, in fairness, we have to verify the facts and I will be sending a letter to the Department of Education asking for an investigation into this practice because if it was done at Flushing High School, I have a feeling it may have been done elsewhere and that calls into question students’ records,” Stavisky said.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said he reached out to the school’s principal to set up a meeting and find out what he can do to support the school. He said his concerns rest on what caused the students to fail.

“I’ve advocated for additional drop-out prevention funding for Flushing High School because the real issue we should be addressing is how we allowed these children to fail in the first place,” Koo said in a statement. “There are systemic faults in our school system that place undue pressure on the individual without taking into account their educational foundation.”

The DOE said the high school’s graduation rate has yet to be finalized, but that based on preliminary graduation numbers, it does not expect to see a significant increase in the June graduation rate compared to its internal projects from the spring.

“Just this past year at Flushing High School we’ve replaced the principal, overhauled curriculum, held bi-weekly teacher training sessions and built smaller student learning communities,” Jason Fink, DOE’s deputy press secretary, said. “Flushing High School has been struggling for a long time with no structure or support in place to turn around—now, we are making the tough decisions that will improve student outcomes.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.