Darien school is latest in CT cheating scandals

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After Darien High School students were accused of stealing the answers to their exams from the faculty room before posting them on social media, parents expressed frustration this week that the school re-administered the tests to all students, and did not punish the students involved more severly.

In the shadow of the recent college admissions scandal, the cheating reported at Darien is just the latest incident involving Connecticut schools.

Last March, federal authorities charged Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, a Yale University women’s soccer coach, along with the 49 other people swept up in the college admissions scandal.

Prosecutors claim that beginning in 2015, Meredith worked with a private college counselor “to accept bribes in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as recruits for the Yale women’s soccer team, and thereby facilitating their admission to the university, in violation of the duty of honest services he owed to Yale as his employer,” the New Haven Register reported at the time.

Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, said at the time that the school was “profoundly dismayed and disturbed” by the allegations, but that the university did not believe any other staff or administration was aware of the admissions conspiracy.

It was not the only cheating scandal involving administrators.

In July 2011, district officials in Waterbury began investigating after fourth and fifth graders at Hopeville Elementary School scored off the charts in math and reading assesments on their Connecticut Mastery Tests.

Authorities later said Principal Maria Moulthrop and a reading teacher orchestrated the cheating, with the principal telling teachers to have students change wrong answers on the tests.

At least 17 teachers were eventually placed on administrative leave over the altered tests.

A similar case was reported more than a decade before, this time in Fairfield.

In May, 1996, Fairfield officials claimed the CMT results at Stratfield Elementary School showed signs they had been tampered with.

Tests there showed answers on the standardized test had been erased and corrected up to five times the number of other schools’ exams, the Baltimore Sun reported at the time.

A former FBI agent was involved in the investigation, and a forensic specialist who had worked on the O.J. Simpson case examined the answer sheet under a microscope, the Sun reported.

In response, Principal Roger Previs suggested the corrections were the work of the students themselves.

"You can look at the statistics and say something is wrong or something is right," Previs said. "These kids are taught to self-evaluate. If you need to make a change, you do."

Previs later retired, after the school board opened proceedings to remove him, the New York Times reported in March 1997.

He insisted he did not alter student tests in the scandal that was later known as eraser-gate.

''As I have continually stated, I did not tamper with the tests and I do not know of anyone who tampered with the tests,'' Previs told The Times that year. ''Nevertheless, the cloud hanging over Stratfield School, the staff and the students must be removed as soon as possible.''