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Possible 18 Teachers Coached Students

As many as 18 teachers in the Glen Cove school district may have coached students to help them raise low test scores, district officials revealed last week as an inquiry into alleged improprieties in standardized testing intensifies in one of Long Island’s largest public education systems. 

 

Additionally, district officials said that in March, they were alerted to a separate allegation, against Glen Cove High School, regarding a grade change, in which two administrators may be implicated.

 

The Nassau County District Attorney’s office issued two subpoenas in mid-April seeking information on alleged grade changes by administrators in the 2012 Regents exam as well as on the alleged improper test coaching by teachers at the elementary schools.

 

School district officials, who have been grappling with what might be the district’s largest cheating scandal, said last week that the investigation was launched after some students admitted in interviews that they had been coached by teachers during the administration of the New York State Grade 3, 4 and 5 ELA and math assessments conducted at the Connolly and Landing Elementary schools last year. The teachers were allegedly concerned about low scores. 

 

District officials disclosed the existence of the investigation two weeks ago. None of the teachers were named, nor did district officials say how many students may have been coached. They stressed the investigation is ongoing.

Last week, the school board said in a statement that district officials were “disappointed to hear the initial information this past fall,” and that “the improprieties appear to go beyond one student and one teacher.” The statement said also that it was “particularly problematic, as the allegations suggest, that children were denied educational services that they would have received had their test results been free of teacher assistance.”

 

Last fall, the board hired independent outside counsel to investigate the allegations in order to determine the “legitimacy and scope” of the allegations, based on advice of outside counsel and input from the New York State Education Department. The investigation has been “professionally led by outside legal counsel,” according to the board’s statement.

 

The so-called “trigger” for the investigation was a parent’s comment to a teacher which raised suspicions about the possibility of test coaching at the two elementary schools. The parent reportedly requested services for her sixth-grader, who she said was behind in math. The services were denied based on too high a score on a Regents exam, according to officials. The parent is said to have responded by saying that the only reason her daughter did so well was that her teacher helped her, which immediately raised a red flag and opened the door for questioning. 

 

District spokesman Michael Conte said it is common for the DA’s office to request records and conduct interviews with district officials and attorneys before deciding if the evidence warrants a grand jury.

 

Conte said the investigation is a “process that is codified, and there is “nothing arbitrary” about actions taken.  Penalties range from reprimand to suspension without pay to firing, after impartial hearings mandated by state education law.

 

The board’s statement said, “...if the independent counsel’s report results in the Superintendent of Schools bringing charges against one or more of our employees, the Board of Education will be the arbiter of whether there is probable cause for these charges.”

 

“Make no mistake - these investigations are warranted based on legitimate, detailed concerns expressed by particular parents of young students, as well as other employees of our district,” the statement said. “We simply want the truth to come out through the process.”

News

In order to meet the necessary budget requirements, the Glen Cove School District will reduce school staff members, starting in the 2014-15 school year. One administrative staff member and nine instructional staff members will be let go, according to Superintendent

Maria Rianna’s report at the Monday night school board meeting. Staff reductions will also be made to teaching assistants, school monitors, substitute teachers and custodial and maintenance workers. The total savings for the district is $1,227,669.

 

As of March 31, revenues for the district total $79,281,428. The revenues include the tax levy ($64,780,719),  P.I.L.O.T.s ($1,908,060), tax on consumer utility bills ($1,250,000)n use of reserves ($1,250,000), State Aid ($8,751,799), all other revenues ($635,850) and appropriation of unassigned fund balance ($750,000).

 

The total appropriations for the district are $80,509,097 and revenues are $79,281,428 with a budget gap of $1,227,669.

 It has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.

 

“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”

 

Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health. 


Sports

 

Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.


The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6.  Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0.  The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on.  Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half.  Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.


Calendar

Eggstravaganza - April 16

Live Music - April 16

Community Easter Egg Hunt - April 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com