Cobble Hill School of American Studies kept a 14-year-old "phantom student" on its roster for nearly three months despite teachers telling administrators back in October that he never showed up for remote classes, staffers told The Post.
Published: 2021-01-09 01:48 pm
DOE school probed for attendance of ‘phantom student,’ grade fraud

Cobble Hill School of American Studies kept a 14-year-old “phantom student” on its roster for nearly three months despite teachers telling administrators back in October that he never showed up for remote classes, staffers told The Post.

“I told them the child was not in my classes. He never reported,” a  teacher said of John Tomasi, a private-school freshman whom the city Department of Education erroneously enrolled in the Brooklyn high school.

”The administration was aware of it. This student was not in anybody’s classes.” 

Not only did Cobble Hill issue two bogus report cards for John, but the documents listed a non-existent guidance counselor — one who left the school to work elsewhere in June and was never replaced, insiders said. The school also wrongly sicced city child-welfare investigators on the Tomasi family for possibly neglecting or mistreating their “chronically absent” son.

The city Department of Education gave no explanation for the deception, but spokesman Nathaniel Styer said the case has been referred to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools.

The missteps highlight the DOE’s stumbling system of tracking student attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic when at least two-thirds of students are instructed remotely.

Tomasi, who never attended public schools, is an honor student at private Xaverian HS, and never enrolled in Cobble Hill.

John Tomasi holds up bogus report cards in his Windsor Terrace home.

Helayne Seidman

First and second marking period report cards for John Tomasi. He attends Xaverian, a private Catholic H.S., but still receives report cards and letters from Cobble Hill School of American Studies.

Helayne Seidman

George Kaliampos, Physical Education and Health Teacher at Cobble Hill High School.

Cobble Hill sent Tomasi’s parents two report cards, in November and late December, each giving him mostly grades of “incomplete” — which the DOE requires for students who don’t do any work during the pandemic. But both report cards said John “exceeds standards” in physical-education, and made “progress” in various algebra skills.

The report cards listed 33 absences for John in the first marking period, and a total 47 absences in the second marking period. 

On Nov. 4, the school referred the Tomasi family to the city’s Administration for Children’s Services to investigate ““suspected child abuse or maltreatment.”

An ACS worker knocked on the Tomasi’s door the next day. She questioned his parents about any history of drug abuse or domestic violence, looked in their refrigerator and cupboards for food, and checked John’s body for bruises.

But sources said Cobble Hill failed to take multiple steps required by the Chancellor’s regulations before alerting ACS —  including repeated phone calls, emails, and texts to the family, followed by assigning the case to an attendance teacher for a home visit. Margaret Tomasi, John’s mother, said the family never heard from the school.

The school also could have asked the NYPD to make a “wellness check” on the child, sources said.

Last Monday, a day after the The Post’s front-page report on fiasco, Cobble Hill Principal Anna Maria Mule dismissed it to staff as “fake news,” insiders said. 

Anna Maria Mule, principal of Cobble Hill School of American Studies.


Anna Maria Mule's profile on Cobble Hill School of American Studies' website.

Mule was previously referred to the Special Commissioner of Investigation after teacher whistleblowers complained that she masterminded rampant grade fraud. SCI interviewed teachers at the school before the COVID-19 shutdown. The DOE gave no update on that case Friday.

ln June, Mule ousted six of its 34 teachers in what staffers called retaliation over leaks involving the alleged grade-fixing,

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