A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cheating and Chutzpah, part 7: Oh. Good. Golly.

Ladies and Gentlemen! I think we have winner in the category of Absolute Gall in Cheating. Big props to commenter Exurban Mom for bringing this to my attention.

Brace yourselves:

A high school secretary illegally changed grades in a school computer system to improve her daughter's class standing, according to criminal charges filed Thursday.

Caroline Maria McNeal of Huntingdon is accused of using the passwords of three co-workers without their knowledge to tamper with dozens of grades and test scores between May 2006 and July 2007 at Huntingdon Area High School in central Pennsylvania, the state attorney general's office said.

McNeal, 39, is alleged to have improved her daughter Brittany's grades and reduced those of two classmates to enhance Brittany's standing in the 2008 graduating class.

School officials corrected the grades before the students graduated, prosecutors said.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said the case involves "a serious violation of the public trust."

"Our citizens depend on people in public positions, including school employees, to protect the safety and security of these records and not use confidential information for their own benefit," Corbett said.

McNeal was charged with 29 counts of unlawful use of a computer and 29 counts of tampering with public records. Each count is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine, said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett's office.

No telephone number was listed for Caroline McNeal. Brittany McNeal is not charged with any wrongdoing.

Jill Adams, the school district superintendent, said prosecutors have asked school officials not to comment publicly about the case.

"We would like to have it be finished, over and done," she said.

In all, McNeal is accused of altering nearly 200 scores and grades covering four school years.

The situation came to light in October 2007, when an employee of the high school guidance office discovered conflicting SAT scores for Brittany.

Scores provided directly by the College Board showed a cumulative score of 1370, while an unknown source had previously entered 1730, according to court papers.1

Further investigation revealed that the data had been entered from Caroline McNeal's computer starting more than a week before SAT scores for other students were entered.

Three other secretaries at the school told investigators they had shared their passwords with Caroline McNeal during vacations or other prolonged absences.

How many hands of people who know parents like this?

Of course, usually these people don't get the keys to actually do anything to interfere with the grades of their children. But I just want to say to people like these: "Ma'am, take a deep breath and step away from your child. They're not you, and you can't live through them."

Changing an SAT score from 1370 to 1730. Whew! Changing 200 grades!

You've got to feel for her poor daughter. But I especially feel for the other kids whose records she changed to help raise her daughter's standing. "Tampering" doesn't seem to cover it. I propose a new felony: Academic Assault.

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At 6/29/09, 9:02 AM, Blogger M-Dawg said...

So sad. We all want our children to do well in school and succeed but to interfere like this is wrong on so many levels.

What a "positive" role model for her daughter!

I hope that justice is served to the parent.

And, I wonder what will happen to the daughter in college? Everytime she gets a bad grade in a class is she going to ask Mom to change THAT grade?

What ever happened to morals and ethics??????

At 6/29/09, 1:17 PM, Anonymous Exurban Mom said...

I remain in awe of this woman. I cannot understand how this woman thought she was helping her child. College was going to be a huge wake-up call for her...and I would bet lots of money she didn't make it past the first year.

It's interesting in the story that it's not clear the daughter was aware of the cheating. I really wonder...did she know what her mom was doing?

At 6/29/09, 9:04 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I doubt she worked as hard in actual labor with this child as she did in trying to put the fix on her grades.

At 7/1/09, 4:46 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Wow. Sadly, I think it's pretty easy to do if a person is so inclined.

At 7/23/09, 8:59 PM, Blogger Stella Gorlin said...

The fact that she would alter her own child's scores is bad enough (there's nothing wrong with a 1370 on the SAT!) but that she would alter other student's scores to make her daughter look better is absolutely unconscionable. The incentive to get ahead by any means necessary is really on display here and I'm appalled.


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