Ballou High School principal removed amid graduation investigation

WASHINGTON — The principal of Frank W. Ballou High School has been removed from the position after a report last week alleged that dozens of students at the D.C. public school graduated last year without meeting requirements.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced Monday evening that Dr. Yetunde Reeves was assigned to another function in the district. He did not specify what that role would be.

Principal Willie Jackson of Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, will serve as acting principal “effective immediately,” Wilson said. He will return to Phelps ACE when the Ballou investigation is finished, said DCPS spokeswoman Kristina Saccone.

Last week a WAMU report charged, among other things, that one in five graduates of Ballou were absent more than present over the 181-day school year. One senior reportedly missed more than 150 days. District policy says that any student who has more than 30 unexcused absences from a particular class receives no credit for that class.

The report, citing documents provided by a DCPS worker, also says that some 12th-graders couldn’t read or write, and that as of April only 57 of the 164 seniors were on track to graduate in June. All 164 did graduate.

At a news conference last week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Wilson ordered a review of policies, which Wilson said Monday would be carried out by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and an outside firm. Their findings are expected to be delivered within 45 days, Wilson said.

DCPS is simultaneously conducting its own review of policies and practices at Ballou.

“We take this issue very seriously, and we know that policies must be explained clearly and implemented with fidelity. This investigation will restore integrity to the process by providing students, parents, and the broader community with answers,” Wilson said in a Monday news release.

WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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