theatre arts production company school

summer session

New York

TAPCO principal yanked after wide inquiry finds many abuses

New York City's top-ranked high school two years ago achieved its lofty score under a veil of academic improprieties that ranged from fudged student records to inflated test scores, according to a lengthy report released today by the Department of Education. After a sweeping, 17-month investigation into Theatre Arts Production Company School, investigators concluded that the school's leader, Lynn Passarella, was directly responsible for much of the misconduct. Substantiating nine of 19 allegations against her, the investigators also concluded that under Passarella's watch student transcripts were falsified, school funds misused, and non-credited staff were assigned to teach a loosely defined "Wellness" class that replaced physical education requirements. They also concluded that Passarella had personally marked students present when they had been absent — altering a metric that factors into schools' progress report grades. TAPCO received the highest score among all city high schools in 2010, insulating the school from criticism and guaranteeing Passarella a hefty bonus even as allegations about improprieties began to pile up. The Department of Education removed Passarella from TAPCO this morning and will move to fire her. Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a statement saying that Passarella's behavior was "dishonest and disgraceful, and shows a blatant disregard for principal responsibilities." Even when the investigators did not formally substantiate allegations, they often concluded that improprieties might well have taken place.