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State presses criminal charges against 5 Philadelphia educators in cheating scandal

By David Limm, Dale Mezzacappa and Kevin McCorry on May 8, 2014 09:31 AM
Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks

Updated |  7:00 p.m.

Five School District of Philadelphia educators who worked at Cayuga Elementary have been criminally charged in connection with the state's investigation into widespread cheating in city schools on standardized tests.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced today that school's former principal, Evelyn Cortez, and four teachers -- Jennifer Hughes, Lorraine Vicente, Rita Wyszynski, and Ary Sloane -- have been charged with fostering a culture of cheating on the state's standardized tests, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, over a period of five years.

Sloane has been serving as principal at Bethune Elementary. 

The educators are being charged with a variety of crimes, including tampering with public records and corrupt organizations, which are felonies; perjury; and criminal conspiracy.

Kane, in an interview with NewsWorkssaid that she thought the most "egregious" behavior was involving students in the cheating by directing them to answer the questions on scrap paper instead of in their test booklets.

"Dragging these poor kids into it as well as robbing them of an education is reprehensible," she said.

A 14-page grand jury presentment outlines how the educators, under the direction of Cortez, between 2007 and 2011 changed student answers, provided answers to students, and improperly reviewed PSSA test questions before administering the test. Cortez, the presentment said, did not try to hide her actions. 

Evidence and testimony showed that Principal Evelyn Cortez blatantly promoted the PSSA cheating at Cayuga Elementary School during testing. According to the grand jury, students were directed to record test answers on scrap paper instead of test booklets so teachers could check their work, and this directive was also broadcast over the school's PA system. 
 
During testing Cortez allegedly entered classrooms, looked over students' shoulders and tapped students' booklets to indicate they needed to change an answer. One witness testified that Principal Cortez suggested to her that she place her fingers by the correct test answers. 
 
In addition, the grand jury found that Cortez publicly reprimanded Cayuga Elementary School teachers who did not engage in PSSA cheating, as well as students who did not want to change their answers or incorrectly answered test questions. 
 
Teachers were encouraged to take PSSA tests home with them to familiarize themselves with the tests before proctoring students, according to the presentment.  

The presentment says that "significant pressures existed for the various schools to increase PSSA performance" and notes that the District made a show of celebrating the improvements.

It also noted that scores at Cayuga dropped precipitously after PDE put new testing protocols into place in 2012. 

Grade / Subject % Scoring Advanced/Proficient 2011 % Scoring Advanced/Proficient 2012
Grade 3 Math 63.2% 30.4%
Grade 3 Reading 60.3% 26.8%
Grade 4 Math 77.4% 38.6%
Grade 4 Reading 41.5% 18.6%
Grade 5 Math 62.0% 22.4%
Grade 5 Reading 50.0% 16.3%

 

A 2012 Notebook analysis found that Cayuga was one of 22 Philadelphia schools (including four charters) where the reading or math proficiency rates on the PSSA exam dropped by 30 or more points that year. Proficiency rates dropped by an average of 10 points or more at 101 Philadelphia schools that year.

In the interview, Kane said that Cortez "perpetuated a culture" where teachers were told to "do whatever they had to do" to increase test scores, for which they "got accolades and avoided demotions."

She said her office began the criminal investigation in May 2013, more than a year after the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Office of Inspector General began a non-criminal probe into 53 schools flagged for statistical irregularities by forensic analyses of test booklets for 2009 to 2011.

Cayuga was among 14 so-called "Tier 1" schools designated for investigation by the state directly based on the severity of the anomalies. 

After the arrests, the five were immediately suspended from any duties, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard. In a statement, he said the District "strongly supported" the attorney general's action and would continue to cooperate with the criminal investigation.

He noted that the District's own investigation into 19 "Tier 2" schools had resulted in disciplinary actions being taken against 15 current and former employees. 

According to the grand jury, Sloane, who had been at Cayuga since 1993, served as the testing coordinator for a few years up to 2008. She was among several teachers who testified against Cortez.

"Sloane testified that she witnessed Principal Cortez remove completed test booklets from the secure room where they were to be stored," the presentment says. She testified that two teachers, including Vicente, "would go inside the office with her, and Cortez would shut the door. Sloane further testified that she saw Principal Cortez take a test booklet home for her son, who at that time was in the same grade."

Another teacher, Barbara Dolt, testified that Cortez told her to lie to investigators about where test booklets were stored and that "the reason for the high number of erasures was because their students erase a lot; in fact, Dolt testified that, by her own observations of her students, they hardly erased at all."

The report contains testimony from more than a dozen Cayuga staffers, including Sloane and Wyszynski, who either said they participated in, witnessed, or were asked to do something improper.

Cortez, Vicente, and Hughes denied any knowledge of cheating. The presentment notes that Cortez had signed an affidavit in 2011 "attesting that PSSA security protocol was followed at her school." The three were charged with "corrupt organizations," a first-degree felony, and perjury, as well as with tampering with public records, forgery, and criminal conspiracy

Sloane and Wyszynski were charged with tampering with public records, forgery, and criminal conspiracy -- but not charged with corrupt organizations or perjury.

The report also says that for the three years between 2009 and 2011, Cayuga student test booklets had percentages of wrong-to-right erasures completely out of line with statistical norms. For example, while the average was less than two erasures, 15 percent of 3rd-grade booklets had 10 or more, the report said.

Cortez was removed from Cayuga on Friday. Gallard said that she had been temporarily reassigned as "principal on special assignment" to Overbrook High School to "assist the administrative staff" there.  

A teacher at Cayuga who did not want to be identified said that Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Logan came to Cayuga on May 1 to interview staff members individually. The following day Logan told staff at a meeting, without going into detail, that "there was enough reason to take swift and decisive action" to remove Cortez.

But District officials indicated that they had had no prior knowledge of the arrests and that Cortez was removed for other reasons relating to her job performance.

Carolyn Williams, an assistant principal who had been laid off, has been assigned to Cayuga, Gallard said.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, issued a statement saying that "there is absolutely no excuse for cheating." But he added: "Solving the cheating problem doesn't end with simply firing or arresting the guilty parties. We must address the current 'test and punish' culture that dominates public education and puts many teachers in the position of fearing for their careers and professional reputations."

Kane called the investigation into cheating "widespread."

"Right now it is ongoing in Philadelphia," she said, but added that as attorney general, she has statewide jurisdiction and that anyone with information about cheating on the PSSAs should contact her office.

Beyond that statement, she declined to share any information about what schools, districts, or charters are under investigation for possible criminal charges.

District sources said that Kane's office did not warn them ahead of time about this action. They said that they are not sure whether her investigators are limiting the criminal probe to the 11 Tier 1 schools (including three charters) where the evidence of cheating was most egregious -- or are also looking into the Tier 2 and Tier 3 schools being investigated by the District.

But Kane said, "We will go anywhere within the boundaries of the state of Pennsylvania to uncover evidence of cheating."

The Inquirer first quoted teachers alleging cheating at Cayuga in 2012.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Comments (56)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 8, 2014 11:28 am
This is it? One school? Nothing about the administrators at 440 who applauded the 5000% increases accomplished in one year. Which is not even rationale. Yet they did not look into it? They are not part of the conspiracy? Why no one in authority who was really behind this conspiracy to be charged? I have heard of people who did what these guys are accused of and have been recently been made principals. No investigation of that?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 8:15 pm
I remain anonymous out of fear for my children (all three are students in the district). One school that needs serious investigation--in particular since the 2011-12 school year, is Horatio Hackett Elementary school, which functions as a paranoid culture of conspiracy and where paperwork is either shredded or redacted. And while I have no direct proof that cheating or theft is going on (budget papers are specifically redacted or even changed to state things that were untrue the past cycle), certainly this school, from the top down, truly needs to get looked into further. I have never seen an atmosphere so corrupt and so single-minded in promoting the worst crook of them all, the principal who terrorizes both staff and students with what in any other walk of life would label her a bully instead of someone other press articles have somehow called a competent leader. Investigate this school and you will find another disgraceful headline pointing out just how far the School District of Philadelphia has fallen in its desperate attempts to get more money for itself.
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on May 9, 2014 7:53 am
Then call the state hotline provided by Kane. You can remain anonymous.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on May 8, 2014 12:47 pm
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Theyll-never-catch-the-real-... Will Bunch says it best: they will never catch the real culprits. They won't even try. And Pearson will continue to make its billions.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 8, 2014 12:48 pm
Yes, and the junk science of VAM (Value Added Measurement) and PVAAS (PA Value Added Assessment System) needs to be exposed. The dishonesty of it all emanates from our Department of Education at both the State and Federal levels and the edupreneurs behind high stakes testing who control so many of our politicians.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 8, 2014 2:32 pm
Lisa and Rich, we are all talking to the wall. These accused educators are the scapegoats for the top level administrators who put the pressure on them to get those stupid scores to rise. Ackerman is not here to defend herself, but her influence is undeniable. She is doing what Rhee did in Washington, D.C. by rewarding principals who brought up scores with big bonuses. And firing the honest teachers who did not cheat to get the value added scores they needed to survive. Sure the teachers should have blown the whistle, but their reward would have been a cooked up disciplinary action like the one they put on Hope Moffett. In a way, this is a good thing, because the trial will or should shed light on the whole corrupt system. Maybe.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on May 8, 2014 3:47 pm
Teachers aren't in trouble because they didn't blow the whistle. They are in trouble because they are actively engaging in cheating. All they had to say was no......like an overwhelming majority of teachers did. Please stop trying to absolve them of guilt.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:53 pm
First of all, neither of us were there, so you cannot say all they had to do was refuse to cooperate. This was after all, one school out of how many? But in that school, the principal (probavly under duress from the superintendant) was the one who planned and organized the cheating. It is hard to say No when your boss is breathing down your neck and threatening you. I hope you also realize that only teachers from grades 3-8 were involved in the testing regime. Specialists and early childhood teachers were exempt from any of the nonsense. Teachers were given the test materials ahead of time and ordered to use them to drill for the test. That kind of test gaming is not allowed, but they were coerced into opening and using them. I am not trying to excuse any of it, but I repeat that since we were not there, we do not know what type of coercion was placed on the teachers. A simple NO may not have been an option. My point is that the whole business is a kabuki theater of the absurd. The tests themselves are unsound and were deliberately used to enable the closing of schools and the creation of alternative education, especially of the charter school variety. Ackerman meanwhile had to justify her million dollar compensation and pressured certain administrators to produce phony results or else. It was one vast conspiracy. Now imagine if such principals were put in charge of teacher evaluation for the purposes of obtaining or losing income or even a job.
Submitted by PatB (not verified) on May 8, 2014 7:20 pm
You are so right about the invalidity of the tests. This is a castle of sand built on tests that haven't been shown to be valid. They are culturally and ethnically biased. Even the math tests require a deep understanding of academic English. And the creators of these tests just keep getting richer. No one questions what these tests prove. If you don't believe me, check out the sample Keystone published in the Inquirer a week or two ago. Did you know that gliding implies strength not effort and that an example of good usage is that one can be "famished" to learn the ending of a book? When ignorant, undereducated people are creating these tests, and when, evidently, the companies producing them needn't defend the efficacy of these tests, what does anyone expect the tests to prove? Where is the academic community in higher ecucation? Have they been completely co-opted by McGraw-Hill, Kaplan, Pearson, etc.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 8, 2014 9:39 pm
Thanks, that has been my point from the beginning. When the tests themselves as well as how they are graded are one big joke, why does it surprise anyone that those who administer them are willing to compromise their integrity, especially to avoid unpleasantness like being demoted or fired. Many sincere educators try their best to follow the crazy schema of the tests, with all their scripted silliness and rote content. Since the scandal, teachers may not even monitor their own classrooms. Tests are sealed until the moment of distribution. So scores plummit. But are they an accurate measure of what children actually know and can do? Were they ever?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 10:04 pm
"It is hard to say No when your boss is breathing down your neck and threatening you." ? No it's not, it's called integrity, and demonstrating that to the kids. 99.9% of the teachers in the District understand this.
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 9, 2014 3:04 am
Well, then you must not have read my whole post or other posts here. Of course I spoke of and know the meaning of integrity. And of course it is important to model it. But don't forget that the first person in the school to break that code was the principal. And that principal was told to do so by someone else in the chain of command. In other words, it was all a FARCE. The test itself is a colossal farce. You are expecting teachers tp be the only examples of integrity when all around them is a bunch of baloney. It is like telling soldiers to go into battle with no bullets. All for the honor of the corps. Also be aware that the reward for doing the stupid test honestly was often to have the school declared "failing," then closed, and/or transformed into a privatized charter or "Renaissance" school. What needs to happen is for parents to wise up and opt their kids out of the test altogether. Children are getting sick over these cockamamie and abusive exercises. (I witnessed one child having an asthma attack right after the PSSA.) Enough already with this abuse.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on May 9, 2014 5:36 am
Ackerman's annual charade paraded the principals whose school's made AYP and mocked those who did not. The "empowerment" label of a school was a scarlet letter. Some principals prioritized Ackerman's praise over their integrity. It is not only the Tier 1, 2 and 3 schools. Gaming the test - by any means necessary - became the goal rather than learning. There are many principals (and teachers) who bought into the nonsense. There are also still people in power in the SDP who worked for Ackerman and pressured / threatened schools. Will they ever be called to account?
Submitted by gloriaendres (not verified) on May 9, 2014 6:26 am
Ackerman did exactly what her fellow Broad trainee Michelle Rhee did in D.C. Rhee gave huge bonus checks to principals who made AYP and ignominiously fired those who did not. She and Ackerman both left before the cheating was exposed. Sabotage is not strong enough a word for what these so called "educators" did to their schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 7:17 am
how about "schoolocide"?
Submitted by Urban T (not verified) on May 9, 2014 5:55 pm
Hi Gloria. I certainly take your point regarding the nature of the theater. However, one semi-correction. Specialists at Cayuga did administer tests, as they do at other schools. While we're often not involved in much of the test prep, we very often are called on to administer and we are required to pass the online administration test also.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 5:33 pm
According to page 10 of the Attorney General's report, there were 2 teachers that witnessed cheating and reported it to PFT-- not to the District directly for fear of retribution. It seems that they were thrown under the bus. Based on my experience, on an individual basis, it is hard to tell which side PFT is on. The whistle blowing teachers would have been better off getting an attorney to submit their complaints. At the very least they could expect attorney-client privilege.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 12:55 pm
Great....now as long as Corbett, Hite and Nutter are charged with their egregious crimes all shall be made right. What these educators did was not right, but what about all of the other CRIMINALS leading (or lack thereof) education in Philadelphia. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 1:27 pm
Cheating is wrong and for leadership to force it as a standard on staff is inexcusable. Let's not forget the ultimate pressure to cheat came from the Ackerman administration and that some of her closest cronies have thus far escaped prosecution. Not everyone is strong enough to stand up to their principal when the result might be a bad observation or enough hounding to drive one out of one's job. For those who did refuse to cheat, how many were later mistreated by Cortez? Hopefully, any "revenge" observations will be purged in the wake of these charges.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 2:24 pm
Timing is everything. It's highly suspicious that these charges were held until a time when the School District is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. Is this meant to soften up the public for a full scale assault on School District employees.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:51 pm
Corbett had this released right before election. Your correct, it's all politically motivated. Corbett should have investigated his friend Sandusky with as much energy as he is investigating erasure marks.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:18 pm
Baloney. The attorney general, Kathleen Kane, is a Democrat. She would never do anything to help Corbett.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:47 pm
They allowed both principals to administer PSSA test last month. There's a reason why they waited until May to strike. AG does what she's instructed to do.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 8, 2014 5:02 pm
She does NOT do what she is instructed to do. She will not enforce the state's gay marriage ban even though Corbett supports it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:03 pm
You are exactly right.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on May 8, 2014 3:46 pm
This is another black eye for the SDP and a distraction we don't need. There is no excuse for cheating. There are temptations in every profession/industry and that is hardly an excuse. They will be prosecuted and most likely go to prison. We need to ferret out the other cheaters in a purge so that we may have accurate test data to work with.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on May 8, 2014 3:54 pm
Like I mentioned in the related article posted last night.....what is going on with all of the apologists?? The teachers cheated.....end of story. Please stop with the buts.....we all know what the buts were and yet 98% of us ( just throwing out a number here) were able to find ways not to cheat. We do no credit to ourselves as educational professionals by trying to excuse their actions.
Submitted by Me (not verified) on May 8, 2014 4:54 pm
As a parent I agree!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 5:26 pm
Ever wonder way it's only in the schools with a low income family population that the cheating takes place? It is going to be impossible to get teachers in these schools soon. Hite and the SRC can't wait to fill them with Teach for America recruits.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 9:56 pm
The race card??? Really?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 1:38 am
It's not only in the lower income schools. My nephew goes to a wealthy suburban school where his teachers did not cover their walls, directed kids when they missed questions or for the wrong and otherwise cheated on the tests. They were also allowed to be tested by their own teachers. Much easier, though, to pick on poor kids when the goal is to sell their futures to charter schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 5:54 am
No, many years ago I substituted in a suburban district and witnessed cheating!!!! The teachers were given the test before hand to " scan " through and taugh to the test. They just didn't get caught!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 5:01 pm
Just four short years ago. http://tinyurl.com/mmrzgpx
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 5:41 pm
Kane can go after teachers but not corrupt politicians caught on tape accepting bribes & taking thousands of dollars. Surely the woman can multitask and indict them too. Guess it's more popular to crucify teachers this year. What they are accused of doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. But it's ongoing from fudging dra scores to reflect growth and giving grades to appease parents and principals. My students would learn a lot more if they actually had resources & supplies instead of sheets of random copy paper for every subject.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 8, 2014 6:56 pm
I am watching district spokesman Fernando Gallard on channel 10 news. "He has no idea why any teacher would teach children to cheat" Cannot understand it. The district provided no incentives to cheat." What despicable liars the administration employs. Teachers just doing this on their own. Nothing to do with district policy. WHO ARE THESE LIARS KIDDING!!!!
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on May 8, 2014 6:52 pm
Gallard worked in PR under Ackerman. How quickly he forgets....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 6:37 pm
. . .not forget, LEARNED
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 6:26 pm
I am a veteran of this District and I am saddened by what these educators are accused of doing. There is NO excuse for cheating. Instead of giving the students the example that cheating is acceptable, they should have flat out refused to comply and set an example for the kids on doing the right thing. If they are found guilty, they deserve everything they get. This is a part of the reason that teachers are vilified and crucified by the reformers and the FOX News crowd
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 7:52 pm
It's a setup. Classic entrapment. Too bad they couldn't see that and just say "What will be will be" instead of trying to manage the outcome. Only politicians and corporate ed reformers are allowed to do that!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 9:41 pm
Entrapment? What planet are you living on. No one from the AG's office approached them and encouraged them to cheat. They did it all on their own. That is not entrapment. And there will be more indictments to come. They are going to prison for this.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 8, 2014 10:26 pm
"Entrapment? What planet are you living on. No one from the AG's office approached them and encouraged them to cheat. " Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I don't think the poster to whom you responded meant entrapment in a strict legal sense. I think the meaning was more along the lines of teachers being setup to fail because of unrealistic expectations from administration regarding increasing test scores. The choice then being getting punished for not hitting the test score number(s) or potentially get caught cheating - IOW trying to "manage the outcome". The poster's point was that rather than cheating the teachers should have accepted that they were caught between a rock and a hard place "what will be will be" and not cheated.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 9:29 am
Entrapment is a legal term. The poster said "Classic Entrapment" and "Setup." entrapment: the action of luring an individual into committing a crime in order to prosecute the person for it. It's one thing to spin. It's another to outright lie. No one from law enforcement encouraged those people to cheat. They broke the law and they're going to jail. More will follow.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 10:36 am
Thanks for providing one definition of entrapment Mr. Webster. It's possible, I don't know for sure, that the OP used the word entrapment in a way other than in the literal legal sense. Or perhaps your interpretation is correct. Assuming the accused are in fact guilty, I'm sure they will be punished as they should be. My preference as a taxpayer would be for short jail time and long probation in addition to revocation of their pension and license. I think that extended incarceration would be a waste of money and isn't going to be more effective as a deterrent than loss of pension and license along with the act of being prosecuted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 7:34 am
What's sad is there are more cheaters out there....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 9, 2014 7:29 am
I hear there are a lot of witches too!
Submitted by RogueTeacher (not verified) on May 9, 2014 12:58 pm
The teachers should have spoken up together and not have cheated, if in fact they did. No matter the pressure or other circumstances, no one should sacrifice their teaching certification, reputation, and criminal prosecution for their boss or their boss's boss. However, it also should not be ignored the fact that the pressure is there to cheat and will only get worse with all the policies being implemented and encouraged. I'm a teacher. I would never cheat, who cares if the kids score high or not anyway, those tests measure nothing! I wish more teachers would unite and protest, stop administering the test, report those who cheat. Stand up and advocate and stop being controlled by fear!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 7:49 pm
Teachers at Cayuga did speak up and reported it to PFT who then did nothing to protect them since the principal found out who they were and they we're ultimately run out of the school.
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on May 9, 2014 2:24 pm
The Department of Education has been investigating has been cheating in our schools for over 3 years. Given the number of schools in question, this indictment itself is suspect as being too little too late. These instances of purported cheating are very difficult to prove. Statistical anomalies are sufficient to begin an investigation but they are not proof. In these cases a confession and subsequent first-hand knowledge of the participation of others is mandatory as evidence. This indictment virtually cooks these defendants, its damning. I’m only surprised that none among them took a plea. Perhaps the prospect of jail time was just too unbelievable given their crime, for that is my problem with this whole mess. High stakes testing is at the root of this crime, but these folks are culpable none the less. My only concern is the punishment. Jail time seems excessive for a school cheating scandal; the punishment is disproportionate to the acts committed. I can see taking away teaching and principal’s certificates and banning these individuals from ever being employed in public education again. Even fines are reasonable remedy, but jail time? We have violent criminals who are looking at less time than these former educators. If it were up to me I would take this process out of the criminal justice system and resolve the issues administratively. I’d also suspend all investigations into cheating that commenced years ago prior to the new classroom protocols. We have wasted millions of dollars in these investigations where we could have applied those resources in much more productive endeavors. As for the Attorney General, Ms. Kane’s reputation is already in tatters for not pursuing the bribery charges against Philadelphia pols. Now she is overcharging educators. Both actions fail to make me feel safer as a citizen.
Submitted by Me (not verified) on May 9, 2014 4:11 pm
Grand juries don't work fast. That is the nature of the beast. Most Grand Jury's take 18 - 36 months to hear all the evidence, deliberate and make their decision. 3 years for this is about right. As someone else posted on twitter....There is always a choice, they made the wrong one.
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on May 9, 2014 7:50 pm
Cheating is wrong, and if the allegations are true then these educators made some very bad choices. However, charging them with a law intended for organized crime is a bit much. In fact, ANY charge that included jail-time is excessive.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on May 10, 2014 8:41 am
Thanks for a thoughtful, well written post. As hard core as I am about being no excuses, they cheated, stop apologizing for their actions, the punishment aspect of this is something I had not spent a lot of time on. Yes, significant jail time seems heavy handed. Maybe house arrest? 6 months seems reasonable. There has to be some consequence besides losing their certificates.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 10, 2014 4:09 pm
When I was a public school student you were afraid to get caught by a teacher cheating. Boy do these kids have it better?!
Submitted by Nina Murphy (not verified) on May 11, 2014 11:32 pm
The Philadelphia School District under Nunery at the time, and, the union under Jerry Jordan were fully aware there was something seriously wrong at Cayuga!! How do I know???? My daughter worked there during this time and repeatedly called, sent emails ( we have the proof), and, contacted elected officials to alert them of the climate of intimidation and retaliation at the hands of this administration. Now, after speaking this week to the Attorney General's special investigator, he concurred that everything my daughter and other teachers experienced was true and correct, for my daughter and her colleagues were subjected to threats, harassment, alienation, retaliation, and Cortez's madness as she meted out "force-transfers" like delivering mail everyday. She blatantly and consistently, to inside her administrative staff, fostered an abhorrent hostile and derisive work environment for the teachers, and, a dishonest and destructive learning environment for the students. My daughter can attest to all the above and more....It was a living hell for my daughter who is a well-credentialed, professional educator with an advanced degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Johns Hopkins! Someone must bring vindication and justice to the teachers who were either forced to leave or were subjected to such heinous actions. Does anyone know of a good civil litigation attorney in Philadelphia or surrounding counties interested in possibly representing the teachers who were affected? The special investigator alluded there is more than enough evidence to support a civil suit should one be filed on behalf of their claims. If so, please email me at: jmbnmd@gmail.com
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 12, 2014 8:07 am
And the PFT membership must investigate why the teachers' pleas for the harassment and intimidation were ignored by the union leadership!
Submitted by doublestandard (not verified) on May 12, 2014 10:31 pm
That's because Ted and Jerry can't be bothered with the peons' trouble. Just turn in your dues like a good drone and wear a red shirt. A lot of what is happening now is due to the failure of the PFT to go after bully administrators. Failing to draw the line leads only to more harassment. I told the PFT of numerous violations and got only excuses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 13, 2014 10:13 pm
That is so true. On an individual basis, it seems that PFT is not willing to do much. Its a dismissive attitude as if they cannot be bothered. Not easy to communicate (call and leave a message with the main secretary, no direct phone or email correspondence). You are are far better off with a civil rights or labor relations attorney and impartial mediation via PA Code.

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