Jury: Newburgh Enlarged City School District doctored records, test scores

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GOSHEN -

A grand jury in Orange County has found evidence that the Newburgh Enlarged City School District doctored attendance records and test scores to bolster graduation rates and allow student-athletes to play.

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler released the findings of the 87-page grand jury report Wednesday.

According to that investigation, the district forged hundreds of student-athlete's attendance records - dating back to 2013. It also accused the district of allowing many student-athletes to miss more than half the school year with unexcused absences purposely changed, in order for them to remain eligible to play sports.

The report even says district staff systematically changed failing online test scores to bolster graduation rates in a credit recovery program called "APEX," which allows failing students to make up missed work. In some cases, they allegedly rushed through and shortened the program.

"Essentially 45 days’ worth of work completed in two hours. You'd think somebody would think that was wrong," said Hoovler.

Hoovler said despite the allegations from 15 witnesses, detailed in thousands of documents, no charges are being filed. He said his office took on the investigation after the state Department of Education was notified and "did nothing."

The report recommends that an outside monitor oversee attendance and the APEX program in Newburgh. The district said by statement that it has cooperated with the investigation and is reviewing the findings to make necessary changes.

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