On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) Judge Cathy Sellers issued a Recommended Order upholding the decision of Miami-Dade County Public Schools to fire Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin for his part in the massive test cheating scandal, Adobegate, at Miami Norland Senior High School during the 2011-2012 school year.
The School Board of Miami-Dade County will either formally accept or reject the Recommended Order at the August 6 or September 3, 2014 School Board meetings.
What is disturbing is that there were two teachers involved doing the exact same thing in the exact same room at the exact same time (for the most part) and one is fired (Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin) while the other (Mrs. Brenda Muchnick) is still on the job at Miami Norland Senior High School while the whistle blower, Trevor Colestock, is still displaced from Norland and is not allowed to return there.
With the assistance of cheating, undertaken by Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, Miami Norland’s school grade went from a “C” for the 2010-11 school year to an “A” for the 2011-12 school year.
The Miami-Dade OIG Final Report concluded that, “Miami Norland has benefited in the form of attaining a higher school grade and may have received financial compensation or other benefit resulting from its high pass rate on the industry certification exams” (page 13).
As a result, total federal funds (SIG, RTTT) given out due to a grade influenced by cheating was $100,560; the total state funds per FSRP was between $130,000- $140,000; the total overall combined federal and state incentive funds were $230,560- $240,560.
Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41 from all three payouts.
On October 16, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to terminate Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin for his role in Adobegate, and rightfully so, and his case was forwarded to DOAH court.
On November 19, 2013, the Miami-Dade School Board voted to suspend Mrs. Brenda Muchnick for 30 working days without pay for her role in Adobegate, which boggles the mind. She accepted this punishment and therefore it was not referred to DOAH.
When Mr. Fleurantin appeared alone on the D55 item of the School Board Agenda on October 16, 2013, something seemed amiss and it was common sense that something was in the works given the disparity in actions taken against them.
Most crimes, such as theft and homicide, have varying degrees; test cheating does not and state law is straightforward and clear. In any given instance of test cheating, a role is a role; there is no distinguishing a major role from a minor role. Either one was involved or they were not.
Both Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick, according to the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report, allegedly “knowingly and willfully” violated test security rules irrespective of quantity of students in their respective roles.
When one reads that document and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.
A reasonable person would conclude that the logic and conclusion of Judge Sellers’ Recommended Order pertaining to Mr. Fleurantin would be applicable to Mrs. Muchnick as well.
Enid Weisman, the Chief Capital Human Officer for M-DCPS, is responsible for disciplinary practices in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
She led the effort to remove Mr. Colestock from Norland; fired Mr. Fleurantin while reinstating Mrs. Muchnick at Norland though they both were charged by M-DCPS with the same offenses word for word
A confidential source said Mrs. Weisman told the School Board that the disparities in punishment came about as a “technicality” pertaining to Mrs. Muchnick.
According to another confidential source, the “technicality” was that Mrs. Muchnick told District personnel prior to the October 16, 2013, School Board meeting that she was going to claim that school administrators directed her and Mr. Fleurantin to provide students the answers to the Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver industry certification exams in order to enhance the “back 800 points” of the school grade and improve the school grade overall.
As a result, she was removed from the October 16, 2013, D55 Item of the School Board Agenda (thus leaving only Mr. Fleurantin), deemed to be under further investigation, and was placed on the D55 Item of the School Board Agenda of the November 19, 2013, meeting with a more lenient and favorable punishment- 30 days without pay.
The crime is bad enough; like Watergate and other similar scandals, the cover-up is far more worse.
A reasonable person may well conclude that the disparity in punishment between Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick suggests a cover-up and the illegal and retaliatory actions taken against Mr. Colestock are meant to keep the Norland faculty and staff quiet and to keep the truth from coming out and exposing other improprieties relating to Adobegate.
Furthermore, the inaction of federal and state officials to investigate encourages such misdeeds and criminal behavior and shortchanges teachers, students, and the general public alike.