Teachers disciplined for cheating scandal at North Central High School

North Central High School

One teacher has resigned and five others are being suspended without pay following a teacher cheating scandal at North Central High School.

An Eyewitness News investigation first exposed the cheating to the Indiana Department of Education in May. After Washington Township Schools learned of WTHR's investigation, the school district launched its own investigation, and on Friday the district announced the results.

One teacher chose to resign this week rather than face termination. In a written statement, the school district said the teacher copied test questions from the state's Biology ECA (End of Course Assessment) exam and shared them with several other Biology teachers at North Central High School.

This is the first time the school district has confirmed those details, which were first reported by WTHR last month.

Five other teachers have accepted suspensions ranging from four to 15 days. The teachers will not be paid during the suspensions, and they could also face discipline from IDOE. The school district found four of those teachers had received a copy of the test questions and failed to report the security breach to the department chair or school administrators. The other suspended teacher, who is also considered an administrator, learned of the cheating from another staff member and "did not report the concern or investigate further," according to the school district's statement.

Sources close to the investigation tell Eyewitness News that Washington Township Schools has threatened some of the teachers with longer suspensions if they choose to appeal their cases to the district's school board.

Washington Township Schools pursued a maximum penalty against one of its biology teachers because, during their investigation, school officials learned she had "verbally conducted test preparation quizzes [using copied questions from the Biology ECA] and then students saw the same questions on the test."  By resigning – rather than being terminated – the teacher will likely avoid administrative action by IDOE, which can revoke a teacher's state teaching license for blatant incidents of cheating.

IDOE says most test questions on its statewide year-end assessment exams are re-used multiple years, and an IDOE spokeswoman confirmed dozens of questions copied at North Central High School in 2009 and 2010 were included on the state's 2011 and 2012 Biology ECA. Because students were given access to the test questions prior to the actual exam, IDOE could invalidate North Central's test results.

Administrators from Washington Township Schools declined to answer additional questions from WTHR.  The school district says it will take additional steps to tighten its training and testing protocols following the teacher cheating scandal, which went unnoticed by school administrators for more than three years.

A statewide teacher survey conducted last month by WTHR showed one in ten Indiana teachers knows of another teacher in their school district who helped students cheat on a standardized test.