Another Philly Educator Charged in Cheating Scandal

2015_01_07_PSSA-DavisORourke-400x400The former principal at Alain Locke Elementary School has been charged with “creating an environment ripe for cheating” on state assessments — the eighth Philly educator to face court in the long-running scandal.

Lolamarie Davis-O’Rourke, who was principal at the school from 2009 to 2012, faces one count each of tampering with public records or information; forgery; tampering with records; and criminal conspiracy.

The press release from Attorney General Kathleen Kane reports:

The Criminal Prosecutions Section presented evidence of criminal activity before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the charges being filed today against Lolamarie Davis-O’Rourke, 43, 716 Saddlebrook Drive, Williamstown, New Jersey.

The grand jury found that while principal at Alain Locke Elementary School from the 2009-’10 to 2011-’12 school years, Davis-O’Rourke allegedly created an environment ripe for cheating on the annual PSSA by: proctoring students to change answers from wrong-to-right, directing teachers to help students switch answers and rewrite written responses; and changing the locks to a storage room so that only she and the building engineer could access stored test booklets.

Davis-O’Rourke also changed answers and instructed some of her staff to correct wrong answers, according to the presentment.

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Principal, 4 Teachers Charged in Cheating Scandal at Philadelphia School

As expected, charges were announced today in an investigation into cheating at Philadelphia schools. The principal of Cayuga Elementary School and four teachers there have been charged in the cheating scandal, the Inquirer’s Kristen Graham reports. The school is in Hunting Park.

Action News says the attorney general’s office alleges the teachers gave test answers to students, changed answers and “improperly reviewed PSSA questions prior to tests.”

The Inquirer first reported on cheating at Cayuga in 2012. The paper said principal Evelyn Cortez, who was charged today, told teachers to “go through and make sure no questions are left blank” on state achievement tests.

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Philly Cheating Scandal Drawing National Spotlight

The national media has suddenly taken notice of Philadelphia’s cheating scandal, in which more than 130 educators are accused of helping, er, improve the local results of standardized tests. Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office is mulling criminal charges in the matter.

The New York Times calls it “one of the largest such cheating scandals in the country.”

Some administrators were giving answer keys to teachers who passed them on to students. In other cases, principals took completed exams home at night and doctored the answer sheets. And in some schools, teachers and administrators gathered secretly in conference rooms with test booklets, pencils and erasers and changed wrong answers.

“Any time you’ve got cheating going on by adults, that’s egregious,” said Michael A. Davis, general counsel to the Philadelphia school district, who described some of the findings of the inquiry.

The tests spanned three years, from 2009 to 2011, and involved 138 educators at 27 schools, three of them public charter schools.

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