After cheating, Darien schools taking steps to enhance security

DARIEN — After students entered the social studies and language arts offices at Darien High School and copied the answers to the 300 level exams, the district is taking steps to enhance security in staff areas, the superintendent of schools said.

The Board of Education discussed the question of security at its special meeting earlier this month to discuss the breach of exam answers. Dr. Alan Addley, superintendent of schools, told the board at that meeting the administration was taking a 360 review of the process and exams themselves.

He pointed out that the school is large and that students know they should not be in that area, regardless of supervision at the time.

Addley told The Darien Times Tuesday that “security precautions for exams have been reviewed, discussed and some new practices have been implemented.”

“The accessibility and evening security at the high school remains an ongoing discussion as the facility is often used for student and community activities and events,” he said.

Addley said he cannot talk specifically about “any level of school security.”

“I think it is fair to say the actions taken are responsive and procedural,” he said.

Addley, when asked about punishment for the students responsible, cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, as why that information could not be revealed. FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education.

On Tuesday, Addley reiterated that individual punishment details could not be revealed due to the law.

The family of one of the teens accused of cheating on Darien High School’s exams recently hired an attorney to investigate and possibly challenge the school district’s handling of the penalties for his client.

Mark Sherman, the Stamford attorney hired to represent the 16-year-old boy implicated in the scheme, said the punishments imposed by the school ranged from retaking the exam to suspension.

“While the district showed measured discretion and compassion in setting the punishment ceiling for the accused students, we are looking into the disparate treatment of these students, especially in the context of federally mandated due process accommodations that should be considered,” Sherman said after he was hired.

Sherman said he will examine whether the punishment was appropriate and was “fair and equitable in the context of penalties meted out to other similarly situated students received in this dumpster fire of a discipline process.”

On Tuesday, Sherman said he had no update to the situation.