JFK faces questions over discharge rate


The Department of Education is withholding John F. Kennedy High School’s Progress Report grade based on apparent irregularities in its discharge rate.

According to DOE spokesman Matthew Mittenthal, the grade will not be released until school officials prove that they discharged as many students as they claim. Discharged students include those who voluntarily dropped out due to pregnancy after they turned 17; were forced out when they turned 21; faced expulsion; enrolled in a GED program; transferred to a school outside the New York public school system; joined a program for new mothers; or were institutionalized.

“We are currently reviewing JFK’s data because of some irregular trends related to student discharges. We’re awaiting documentation from the school, after which we’ll be able to assign a Progress Report grade,” Mr. Mittenthal wrote in an e-mail.

JFK principal Lisa Luft said she is cooperating with the investigation.

“I’m interested in making sure that this school reflects accurate data … I can only help establish what the correct information is but we have new procedures and policies in place that will prevent any discrepancies in the future,” Ms. Luft said, adding that the questionable data does not reflect her administration because she took over this year.

In September, The Riverdale Press reported that a student who entered JFK as part of the 2009 graduating class had only an 11.4 percent chance of leaving with a diploma after four years. The rest dropped out or were discharged. Some education experts have argued that the category allows schools to reduce their dropout numbers.

The Press also previously reported that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office was carrying out an audit of the DOE’s 2007 to 2008 discharge numbers.