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Stuyvesant Report 08 30 13 - Final

Stuyvesant Report 08 30 13 - Final

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Published by: GothamSchools.org on Aug 30, 2013
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OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONSOFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONSOFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONSOFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONSINVESTIGATIVE REPORTINVESTIGATIVE REPORTINVESTIGATIVE REPORTINVESTIGATIVE REPORT
Courtenaye Jackson-Chase
DATE: November 5, 2012
General Counsel
Candace R. McLaren
 
TO: Candace R. McLaren
Director
Director
Christopher J. Dalton
FROM : Dennis Boyles
 
Deputy Director
Kara HughesRobert Small
Norris W. Knowles
Confidential Investigators
Associate Director
SUBJECT: An Investigation into Cheating and Testing Improprieties at StuyvesantHigh School during June 2012
 
OSI Case #12-5848
________________________________________________________________________ORIGIN OF COMPLAINT
On June 29, 2012, the Office of Special Investigations (“OSI”) received a referralfrom the Special Commissioner of Investigation (“SCI”) concerning the conduct of Stanley Teitel, Principal, Stuyvesant High School (“Stuyvesant”). On June 25, 2012,Despina Zaharakis, Senior Executive Director, Office of School Support, called SCI toreport Mr. Teitel for “testing improprieties.” Specifically, Ms. Zaharakis relayed concernthat Mr. Teitel had failed to report an incident of student cheating on the June 2012Regents exams to both State and City officials.
1
 
1
It should be noted that the first media coverage of the Stuyvesant “cheating scandal” was printed in the
 New York Daily News
on Monday, June 25, 2012.
 
 OSI Case #12-5848
Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations65 Court Street - Room 922 • Brooklyn, NY 11201Telephone: 718 935 3800; Fax: 718 935 3931
-2-
RESULTS OF INVESTIGATION
Stuyvesant students/parents:
 
Student A, 16-year-old, male, 11
th
grade:
Student A’s OSI interview:
 
Student A was interviewed on July 30, 2012 by Investigators Boyles and Hughes,in the presence of Father A.
2
To begin, Student A confirmed that he had used his iPhoneto disseminate test information during multiple June 2012 Regents exams; he explainedthat he did not get caught until the day that the LOTE exam was given.
3
Regarding hisunderstanding of Stuyvesant’s cell phone policy, Student A stated that Mr. Teitel advisesstudents that he “doesn’t check bags;” however, “if a teacher sees a phone, they’llconfiscate it.” He further acknowledged that Mr. Teitel has “outlined” this policy“multiple times.”When asked why he decided to cheat on the exams, Student A expressed that hewanted to garner “good will” amongst his classmates. He explained that he is “good” inPhysics, “okay” in U.S. History, and” “not good at all” in Spanish; as such, he was“hoping” that one of the classmates whom he helped on the Physics or U.S. History examwould be motivated to assist him during the LOTE exam.When questioned, Student A explained that the first conversation he had with anyclassmates about potentially cheating was held “face-to-face” on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.Following this, Student A and Students E and F communicated about the plan via textmessaging.
4
When asked about the eventual number of students involved, Student Aasserted that the number of students who received his texts “grew and grew.” Student Aclaimed that, although the plan to cheat was “maybe mentioned” on Facebook, no detailsabout the plan were disclosed online.With regard to how he actually planned to cheat, Student A explained toInvestigators Boyles and Hughes that each Regents exam is proctored by two separateindividuals, the second of whom takes the place of the first mid-way through the three-hour exam. According to Student A, the first Regents exam he took was the Physicsexam: his proctors were Mr. Francis, followed by an unidentified female.
5
 Initially, Student A asserted that, because he was “familiar with” Mr. Francis and“knew he was hard [an observant proctor],” he “didn’t utilize [his] cell phone” until Ms.George came to relieve Mr. Francis of his proctoring post. When Investigators Boyles
2
A summary of Father A’s brief interview statements follows the summary of Student A’s statements.
3
For reference, the “LOTE” is the “Language Other Than English” exam; it was administered on June 18, 2012.Although it is a city-wide (and not a state-wide) test, a student’s performance on the LOTE affects whether he or shereceives an Advanced Regents diploma.
4
All attempts to contact and interview Students E and F were unsuccessful.
5
Mr. Francis has been identified as Hugh Francis, ELA teacher; based on the proctoring schedule provided to OSI byAssistant Principal and testing coordinator Randi Damesek, it is believed that the female proctor is Biology teacherShangaza George.
 
 OSI Case #12-5848
Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations65 Court Street - Room 922 • Brooklyn, NY 11201Telephone: 718 935 3800; Fax: 718 935 3931
-3-and Hughes apprised Student A that his phone records indicate that he did use his phoneon June 13 during the first half of the Physics exam, Student A clarified, “I didn’t use itfor answers.” When questioned, Student A clarified that the text messages were “allrelated to the test, but not answers.” According to Student A, soon after Ms. George took over as proctor, he “took a picture of [his] scrap paper [that had] all of [his] ‘shortanswer’ answers on it.” At first, Student A stated that he sent the photo to approximatelyfive or six students, but then he later clarified that he sent the photo to upwards of 71 to80 students, but that only five or six students “had cell phones capable” of receiving thephoto message. He clarified that this was the only photograph of the Physics exam thathe had sent to his classmates.Student A asserted that Ms. George was not an astute proctor, and that she did notwalk around the room to monitor test-takers. According to Student A, there was anundetermined point in time when Ms. George “fell asleep” while sitting at a desk locatedat the front of the classroom.
6
Student A stated that he capitalized on this, explaining, “Ileft my cell phone on my desk. The female just sat at her desk and fell asleep.”Student A explained that, aside from the photograph of his scrap paper, theremainder of the messages that he sent out were “text-only.” Upon request, Student Aindicated that, during the Physics exam, he sent approximately 10 separate text messagesto roughly 80 classmates. It was Student A’s rough estimation that 15-20% of hisclassmates wrote him back; he acknowledged that some students wrote him back that hehad the “wrong number.” When questioned, Student A stated that he had created the pre-determined group distribution list “completely [at] random.” He explained, “Peopleasked, ‘Could you put me on the mass text?’” which then expanded the initial group thathad been comprised of him, Students E and F.It was at this point during his OSI interview that Student A contended that he didnot send any text messages to students outside of Stuyvesant; he further asserted that hedid not make any money as a result of sending out exam answers. When asked what hewould have done if he had been unable to access his cell phone during the administrationof any of the exams, Student A offered, “I would have prepared a crib sheet andcommunicated [with my classmates] after I finished a three hour test in two hours.”When asked about the U.S. History Regents exam, Student A detailed that his firstproctor was Mr. Jaye, a math teacher, and that Mr. Waxman was the second proctor.
7
 Student A admitted that he used his cell phone to text answers to classmates during theadministration of the U.S. History exam. He clarified that he sent messages that were“text only and no photos,” and explained that he was able to access his phone by placingit on his lap.
8
Student A stated that he sent roughly 33 texts about the essays that
6
For reference, Student A explained that he was sitting in the second row, on the “complete” opposite side of the roomfrom the desk at which Ms. George fell asleep.
7
According to the proctoring paperwork provided by Ms. Damesek, Gary Rubenstein, and Bernard Feigenbaum wereassigned to proctor Student A’s U.S. History exam; Gary Jaye teaches Math, and Michael Waxman is a Social Studiesteacher. As is detailed in the summary of Ms. Damesek’s interview, the proctoring paperwork obtained by OSI reflectsthe preliminary proctoring schedule – Ms. Damesek acknowledged that adjustments were made to this schedule, often aslate as the day-of the exam.
8
Student A, who has a slight frame, demonstrated that held his legs together and placed his knees on the edge of his desk,so as to access his phone without much difficulty.

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