Damning Grand Jury Report Shows
“Systemic Failure”, Doctoring of Records In Newburgh Schools
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that an Orange County Grand Jury has issued a report that makes specific recommendations as to how the Newburgh Enlarged City School District can improve its attendance policies and curtail improper use of its computer online credit recovery program. The investigation began in 2017, after a former teacher and varsity athletics coach at the Newburgh Free Academy made a complaint to both the New York State Education Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office regarding manipulation of Newburgh Free Academy student-athletes’ attendance records, and on a larger scale, chronic student absenteeism.
A special Orange County Grand Jury began investigation on January 10, 2019. Over the course of six weeks, the Grand Jury heard testimony from fifteen witnesses and considered thirty-one exhibits, including tens of thousands of entries of data from Infinite Campus, Inc., the company that manages the District’s student attendance software, and APEX Online Learning, which produces the online courses that the District uses for “credit recovery,” and other online learning programs, as well as hundreds of pages of attendance records. The testimony produced over nine-hundred pages of transcripts.
Hoovler said that the manipulations revealed total systemic failure, and doctoring of records, even possible retroactive changing of grades to enable eligibility that in the end even led to artificial graduation rates.
The Grand Jury also examined documents obtained by search warrants executed at District Offices. The Orange County District Attorney presented evidence so that the Grand Jury could make specific recommendations as to how the Newburgh Enlarged City School District can improve polices regarding student attendance and academics in order to foster a proper environment for education and extracurricular activities.