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IS 109 Principal Shango Blake focus of Ed. Department probe

A spokeswoman for Richard Condon, the commissioner of special investigations, declined to comment on why Blake is the focus of a probe and how any allegations came about.The investigation "is still pending and anything we might say to the press might jeopardize the investigation," the spokeswoman said.Blake, the principal at IS 109 in Queens Village since 2003, is accused by an official with the city DOE's Office of School Food and Nutrition services of using money that was supposed to go to IS 109's lunch program for himself, according to the New York Post.Blake could not be reached for comment.IS 109 PTA President Latchmin Persaud said she had just returned from vacationing in Hawaii and only knew of the allegations after someone informed her about the news reports.Blake has been credited for turning the school around since becoming its principal by enforcing a dress code and instituting a program in 2004 through IS 109's arts funds in which students created rap DVDs touting the school and the uniforms they had to wear.The students also made a documentary for the DVD, which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.The two DVD's were titled "Time to Shine at 109" and "Tuck That Shirt In."On the most recent citywide eighth-grade math exam, IS 109 showed an 8 percent increase in the percentage of students who met or exceeded state standards on the test. There was a 1.6 percent drop citywide. In 2005, 44.5 percent of the school's students achieved either Level 3 or top Level 4 on the test, compared to 36.5 percent in 2004.Blake had earlier said that having the students involved in making the DVDs contributed to their success on the exam.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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