Darien High students cheating on exam topic of school board meeting

Darien High School

Darien High School

Susan Shultz/Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — The Board Of Education will convene a special meeting Tuesday to discuss allegations of Darien High School sophomores sharing answers before English and World Studies exams.

Chairman Tara Ochman said the purpose of the meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m., is stated as an “Administrative Report of Recent Test irregularities at Darien High School.”

Ochman said there will be an opportunity for public comment following the report.

The meeting follows an announcement last Friday to high school parents that the multiple-choice answers for World Studies and English exams were breached and “widely distributed” to the sophomore class, compromising the exams’ integrity. The tests are being re-administered this week.

“Student discipline is an administrative responsibility in the first instance, and the Board of Education does not receive information, comment, or have a role in deciding such student disciplinary actions,” Ochman said.

According to Captain Jeremiah Marron of the Darien Police Department, the department is aware of the incident.

“However at this point we have received no information that a crime has been committed,” he said.

“Darien High School is overseeing the investigation and any requests for information pertaining to the incident should be directed to the school’s administrative staff,” he said.

“We wish to hear from the community, and we also ask that public comment be mindful that children are involved and refrain referring to any personally identifiable information,” she said.

Darien High School administration said though there was a concern that the integrity of the assessments were breached, what was more important was the integrity and reputation of the school.

“When academic dishonesty goes undetected or unchallenged, those who suffer most are the students who value honesty. Learning thrives in an environment in which students are free to express ideas, where they are challenged to think and create and in which they are valued and respected. Integrity is the foundation of this kind of learning environment,” the letter said.

It was signed by Principal Ellen Dunn, Francis Janosco, English Department Chair 6-12 and Keith Keeler, Social Studies Department Chairman 6-12.

“All confirmed cases of academic dishonesty will be handled according to the policies of the Darien Public Schools and the consequences are commensurate with the violations of policy,” the letter said.

However, technology used makes it “impossible” to identify the specific students who approached the exam dishonestly.

The two tests are being administered in a shortened format on Monday, Feb. 10 and Wednesday, Feb. 12.

“I am certain that there are sophomores who were unaware of the academic dishonesty being perpetrated. I ask those students to see this decision not as a punishment but rather as a defense of their values,” the letter said.

“We demand better from those who made the decision to violate our expectations of honesty and integrity at DHS by either participating actively or by remaining silent. This is a teachable moment because no learning environment can thrive on a foundation of mistrust,” the letter said.

It also addressed the “many rumors surrounding this situation that are untrue and that we are unable to address in protecting the privacy of our students.”

The school held a meeting Monday with students.

The school board will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Board of Education meeting room at 35 Leroy Ave.