Teacher suspended for 18 months


A Central Middle School social studies teacher was suspended for 18 months without pay this week -- just days after it was disclosed that students at the school had seen questions remarkably similar to those that would appear on a state writing test.

Ronald L. Beckett, associate superintendent for support services, said yesterday that Ann Danoff, a teacher for more than 20 years, was given the long-term suspension Monday. He would not offer a reason.

"It's a personnel action," Mr. Beckett said. "I can't discuss why we're disciplining her."

Personnel actions are considered confidential, although a school worker's employment status is public information.

Ms. Danoff could not be reached for comment.

School sources who asked not to be named said Ms. Danoff's actions were questioned on the first day of the two-day test, which was given in January. Students from her class told parents that the practice questions they had used in class were remarkably similar to the test questions, the sources said.

They said Ms. Danoff saw the test before it was administered.

The sources also said a second Central Middle teacher was given a letter of reprimand because he accidentally passed out the questions for both days' tests the first day of testing.

The security breaches were not disclosed until last week when school administrators sent a note home with 450 seventh- and eighth-graders explaining why they would have to take the test again.

The writing test is one of four state tests students must pass before graduating. Other tests gauge nowledge of reading, math and citizenship lessons.

Exam booklets for the tests are closely guarded, and the state requires that they be stored under lock and key so that only the school's designated test coordinator has access to them.

"This department takes security issues very seriously," said Ronald A. Peiffer, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. "They're especially important given the high stakes that are attached to school performance assessments."

Allegations that security procedures have been violated must be reported to the state, which then allows the local school system to investigate, and if necessary, take disciplinary action.

"Local schools systems share our concern that appropriate actions be taken when security breaches have occurred, and they have been very cooperative in working with us," Mr. Peiffer said.

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