Teachers accused of cheating still working in schools
Educators often jump to other districts as cases languish in Springfield
"One staff member witnessed the principal coaching students … and six other staff members shared that some of their students indicated she had coached them…," the investigation stated. Rowland-Walton denied coaching students.
But Rowland-Walton maintained her certificates in Illinois, records show, and is certified in neighboring Indiana, where she works at a charter school.
In Chicago in 2006, award-winning science teacher Carolyn Maragh was accused of getting access to state assessment test questions before test day and administering a practice test for her Alcott Elementary seventh-graders. CPS determined there was "credible evidence" that the practice test bore identical information to the actual science exam, according to district records.
The Golden Apple finalist told the Tribune she didn't open the tests early. She said some of her students created the practice test from "accumulated testing materials that she laid out on a table," records show, but students interviewed by the district said they weren't asked to compile a practice test. She resigned before a dismissal hearing.
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the district looks closely at any reports of cheating.
"All board employees that are caught cheating will be and have been swiftly disciplined," Carroll said.
In a teacher dismissal case at Chicago's Robinson Elementary School, a state hearing officer in October concluded there was insufficient evidence that a teacher had cheated. "The evidence was laughable," said one of the teacher's attorneys, John DeRose.
However, the hearing officer said there was "credible evidence" that two other people — Principal Jacqueline Wilson-Thomas and Jack Silver, a teacher who served as ISAT coordinator — tried to convince two teachers that teaching concepts using the actual ISAT test had been authorized by the district's central office, according to state records.
During the hearing, Silver said he had called CPS' central office and was told he could open the seal on the state exams so teachers could teach material they hadn't covered yet, according to testimony. CPS maintained that testing specialists at the central office "had no knowledge" of anyone there speaking to Robinson officials.
Wilson-Thomas maintains there's no truth to the allegations.
"I was forced to resign," Wilson-Thomas said. "This is just a very unfortunate matter that involved a lot of hearsay and was personally motivated."
Silver retired, according to state records. He could not be reached for comment.
Elsewhere, districts including Keeneyville District 20 in DuPage and Wauconda District 118 in Lake County declined to release records of their testing-irregularity investigations, citing exemptions from public records law.
In Matteson 162, Superintendent Davis took the opposite approach, calling an emotional meeting of 400 parents and inviting the media when the alleged cheating episode broke in 2008.
"I felt to remove a principal and an assistant principal was something I needed to communicate directly to the parents," Davis told the Tribune.
"If you're going to suspend a child for cheating, then certainly you should hold adults to a higher standard."