The city’s school district conducted an internal investigation that found several allegations made by retired metal shop teacher Lee McNulty about chaos and violence at John F. Kennedy High School to be “unfounded”, according to district officials.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said the allegations about chaos and violence at the building “was found not to have substance” on Wednesday evening. McNulty, who retired in July 2014, alleged students at the school were cutting classes with impunity.
Assistant superintendent David Cozart, who reported the completion of the investigation to the school board, said the allegations were from school year 2012-13. He said the teacher took a year off before retiring in July 2014. A lot has changed during that time, he said.
Cozart said the district put in place a better attendance tracking system that ensures proper inputting of attendance for every class a student attends.
Students who missed too many days still graduated through a credit recovery program, alleged McNulty in a complaint to the New Jersey Department of Education which operates the local school system.
“A lot of those allegations were unfounded,” said Cozart.
Cozart said there are some classes a student is able to take through credit recovery, but others cannot be taken through an online course. “Not all courses can be taught in credit recovery,” he said. “Some courses require direct teaching and we have teachers for those courses.”
Cozart suggested the direct teaching for credit recovery did not exist in the 2012-13 school year. He spoke to a skeptical school board that appeared to question the credits recovered through the online courses.
“I have very little confidence in credit recovery programs,” said board member Jonathan Hodges. “I’ve been told it’s wonderful, but I don’t believe it.” He found it hard to believe a student who missed many days could learn requisite materials and pass the class in a shorter time period.
“It worked for our accounting system, but not for our kids,” said Hodges.
Though the superintendent said the allegations made by McNulty, who taught at the district for 27 years, about violence lacking in substance, just months after the allegations were made reports emerged a freshman at the high school physically attacked a teacher in the classroom.