Written by Jill Nossa Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00
Details of the independent report on the investigation into alleged test coaching in the Glen Cove City School District became public last week, with an article published in Newsday that sheds light on the findings. The report concludes that teachers at two elementary schools - Connolly and Landing - supplied students with correct answers during state English Language Arts and mathematics exams in spring 2012. The report was completed in mid-March, shortly before the news of the investigation first broke, and disciplinary hearings are still underway. The Glen Cove Board of Education posted a statement on the district’s web site responding to the article.
“First, we want the community to know that while the report is a legitimate document being used in the disciplinary proceedings regarding certain Glen Cove school district employees, it was unconscionable for information from this report to end up in a newspaper,” the statement says. “These are closed hearings that are being held before an impartial hearing officer selected through the State Education Department, in accordance with New York education law.”
According to the report, there were 22 teachers accused, each of whom “denied, outright, having either provided or witnessed inappropriate staff-directed assistance to students or otherwise failing to comply with the governing rules and procedures” for the tests’ administration.
However, the students’ descriptions “were consistent and overwhelming, both in terms of the gravity of the alleged transgressions and the persistence with which they are alleged to have occurred,” it said.
The school board hired the law firm Guercio & Guercio to investigate in November after becoming aware of allegations of test coaching by teachers after parents raised concerns. The report’s sole recommendation is that “the matters detailed herein be referred for the consideration of possible disciplinary charges.” The accusations also involved several administrators, for alleged lack of proper oversight.
The district faces separate allegations of test-changing on 2012 Regents exams at Glen Cove High School.
Two separate probes of the alleged test-fixing at the two elementary schools and the high school are pending -- one by the Education Department and the other by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office served subpoenas upon the district in April.
Glen Cove Teachers Association President Karen Ferguson said,“The district’s investigation continues, and so it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of what happened or didn’t happen, or the attorney’s report. However, I can say that the Glen Cove Teachers Association will continue to work aggressively to ensure that our members’ due process rights are protected. In addition, we want to assure parents and the community that Glen Cove’s teachers are highly dedicated professionals and will not let this weekend’s news distract us from our main focus -- ensuring that Glen Cove students continue to receive an excellent education and enjoy a smooth start to the new school year.”
“Since the allegations first surfaced nearly one year ago, the district has relied upon guidance and direction from its legal team, the State Education Department, and the Nassau County District Attorney,” said the Board of Education. “There have been many eyes on these proceedings, multiple entities involved, and it has taken much longer than we would have liked... we have faith in our teachers and believe that they have the best interests of Glen Cove students and learning at heart. However, we remain firm in standing up for the integrity of our school district by continuing to address this challenge objectively and factually to achieve appropriate and responsible resolution.”
Superintendent Maria L. Rianna declined to comment.