Share this article

print logo

Kriner Cash is right to question unusually strong improvements at East High School

Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash is doing the right thing by verifying whether one of the district’s many struggling schools has actually improved to the extent its principal claims.

Cash is checking on the accuracy of graduation data for East High School. In the process, Principal Casey M. Young has been placed on administrative leave.

The superintendent is well within his rights to question unusually high gains for the Class of 2015. He is especially curious about students who earned their diploma after taking summer credit-recovery classes.

Cash is simply doing his job. It is in the best interest of an underperforming school district struggling to regain status to make sure that numbers showing improvement are incontestable.

Young had previously been investigated concerning issues regarding his school’s graduation data. Still, it would be premature to pass judgment before all the facts are in.

Graduation rates at the high school have “steadily” improved under Young’s leadership. They reportedly increased to 52 percent, from 41.2 percent, between 2011 and 2014. Those numbers included students who graduated after summer school.

Summer credit-recovery programs allow students to take courses in a short time frame and give them a chance to catch up on missed credits. This does not apply to Regents courses. Students still must pass the state exams. Perhaps the troubling aspect here is the tendency for other district high schools to also look at summer credit-recovery programs to improve their graduation rates. It almost smacks of skewing the curve, in a sense. But that is for others to judge based on evidence.

East High’s gains have sparked concerns at the state level. Cash has reportedly communicated with the state education commissioner about the district’s investigation.

East High has been in the state’s spotlight. Last year, the School Board voted to phase out the school, which would eventually lead to its closure. The principal had been determined to change that fate.

His methods have been eyebrow-raising, as when he reportedly “counseled out” a number of students who would not have graduated on time and whom he considered would not earn a diploma. The group of students included those between the ages of 18 and 20. Young considered them “troublemakers” who failed to attend class and apparently not worth the time, trouble and resources – an opinion worth examining.

Cash is taking a hard look at the numbers. It would be nice if the previously stated gains turn out to be accurate. The district is beleaguered, with most schools considered underperforming. Cash was brought in after a couple of notable attempts at finding someone who could help turn things around.

He’s doing his job by looking at the East High data.