A telling document came to my attention about the case of test cheating at Norland Senior High School. It is a brief prepared by the Miami-Dade School Board attorney concerning the administrative hearing involving Mr. Fleurantin, one of the two teachers found by the Miami-Dade IG to have promoted test cheating in the industrial arts program at Norland SHS. The brief provides more details into the cheating and quotes Norland students who were interviewed by the IG.
The brief was authored by Walter J. Harvey, the Miami-Dade School Board attorney, to uphold Mr. Fleurantin’s termination. The brief makes Mrs. Brenda Muchnick look equally culpable, yet she is back at work at Norland while Mr. Fleurantin is being terminated. The brief states, “Norland’s school grade is directly linked to the number of students passing these exams.” What is very telling is if one did not know better, one would think both Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick would have been terminated. Instead Muchnick received a thirty-day suspension and was returned to Norland SHS.
Excerpts concerning the actions of Ms. Muchnick from Mr. Harvey’s brief follow:
18. ‘O.D.’, a minor student, revealed to the OIG Investigator that during the 2011-2012 school year Respondent along with another teacher, Ms. Brenda Muchnick, allowed him to use a study guide during his certification exam.
19. ‘G.E’, a minor student, revealed to the OIG Investigator that during the 2011-2012 school year Respondent, along with another teacher, allowed her and other fellow students to use their study guides while taking the certification exam.
20-21 are the same as #19.
22. During the 2011-2012 school year ‘C.N.,’ ‘A.O.,’ ‘L.T.,’ and ‘R.P’, minor students, were enrolled in Ms. Muchnick’s Dreamweaver class. During the course of the year, Ms. Muchnick took the entire class to take the certification exam. According to both students, Ms. Muchnick, along with an unknown black male teacher, allowed the entire class to use a study guide and a questionnaire with highlighted answers during the certification exam. ‘C.N.’, ‘L.T.’ and ‘A.O.’ stated that the questionnaire was similar to the document discovered by Mr. Gant in the computer lab.
23. Data provided by Certiport corroborates the students’ testimony of having received improper assistance during the certification exams. See the examples!
24. During the 2010-2011 school year approximately seventeen (17) students passed the certification exam as oppose to over 400 students that passed the exam the following school year.
25. Schools such as Norland can become eligible for additional funding based on the number of students passing the industry certification exams.
26. More importantly, the Norland’s school grade is directly linked to the number of students passing these exams. The higher the passage rate is, the higher the school’s grade will be at the end of the school year.
27. Mr. Reginald Lee was the assistant principal at Norland during the 2011-2012 school year, a year in which he imposed a 70% passage rate requirement for students sitting for the aforementioned certification exams.
38. Respondent’s actions, as previously described, violated the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession. Respondent’s actions show that he failed to exercise his best professional judgment and integrity, and he failed to sustain the highest degree of ethical conduct. What about the actions of Mrs. Muchnick?!
40. Respondent’s actions, as previously described, violated the Principles of Professional Conduct. Respondent failed to make a reasonable effort to protect his students from conditions harmful to their learning by allowing them to use study guides during the certification exams. These same actions also violated Respondent’s students’ legal right to a high quality education system.
41. Respondent’s actions demonstrate that he did not maintain honesty in his professional dealings. Respondent allowed students to receive industry certifications knowing that said students lacked the skills needed for these certifications. So did Mrs. Muchnick!
42. Accordingly, Respondent’s action, as described herein, constitute just cause for his dismissal from employment.
51. Respondent was the designated proctor for the aforementioned certification exams. As a Proctor, Respondent had the obligation to abide by the standards and procedures contained in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools: Standards,Guidelines, and Procedures for Test Administration and Test Security. Respondent failed to follow said procedures by allowing students to use study guides during the examinations.
So why was Muchnick returned to the school where the cheating occurred?