Regents exams left unsecured in Center Moriches HS lobby
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Several boxes of Regents exams were left in the lobby of Center Moriches High School last week instead of being immediately secured in a vault as the state Education Department requires, officials said Monday.
State and school district officials said the integrity of the exams was not compromised.
"The district did not properly carry out high school protocols for Regents exams materials," department spokesman Tom Dunn said in an email. "No Regents exams boxes were left outdoors and no exams were compromised. But the locked boxes [of exams] were not promptly secured in the school's vault as required."
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District Superintendent Russell J. Stewart said the Regents exams, delivered Friday afternoon by UPS, "were received after school hours and were signed for by a lead custodian. We have video surveillance of the boxes from the time they were received until the time they were secured in our vault. No one attempted to tamper with the boxes at all during this time."
Dunn said records show the boxes were signed for at the school at 3:19 p.m. Friday.
The district will "receive extra attention, including training from the BOCES and monitoring" because of the lapse, Dunn said. The department took action after being contacted by a district resident, he said.
Possible penalties for failing to properly secure Regents exams could range from a mandate that the district store the exams at a place of the Education Department's choosing to the school losing authority to administer exams.
Kelly Platt, who has two children at the high school and ran unsuccessfully for the school board last month, contacted Newsday after she said a district employee emailed her pictures Friday evening that showed several boxes labeled from the state Education Department in the high school's lobby.
"Some employees had notified me that UPS had dropped off a bunch of boxes and they were just left there," Platt said Monday. Platt said she went to the high school late Friday night and saw the boxes through a window.
"The boxes were supposed to be safeguarded immediately," she said. "The district never safeguarded them and they were sitting in the lobby all weekend long."
Stewart, however, said "they were put in the vault Friday at 9:26 p.m. They were not left out all weekend."
Stewart said Dean Lucera, district superintendent of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, visited the district Monday "and is completely satisfied that the tests are secure and the integrity of all the Regents exams is completely intact."
Dunn confirmed that the department had worked with Lucera and the district "to ensure that the exams are properly secured for the duration of the exam period."
Regents exams begin Tuesday in districts across Long Island.
Newsday recently reported on three dozen complaints of cheating on state tests on Long Island that were substantiated by investigators during the past decade, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information law.
Complaints investigated by the Education Department ranged from teachers improperly coaching students to schools failing to keep state exams locked up. A verified complaint against Roosevelt High School in 2010-11 found exams were not kept in a secure lockbox.
With John Hildebrand