Glen Cove starts school grade-fixing proceedings

The Margaret A. Connolly Elementary School is one The Margaret A. Connolly Elementary School is one of the Glen Cove elementary schools that is the focus of a probe into "testing administration irregularities" in which students were coached on exams, the school superintendent said Thursday. Photo Credit: Newsday File June 8, 2010 / Audrey C. Tiernan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Administrative proceedings have begun against faculty members in the Glen Cove school district in connection with alleged grade fixing on state tests, school-district attorney Chris Powers said Friday.

Potential punishments against the administrators and teachers could range from a letter of reprimand to dismissal, he said. However, Powers would not say what actions may be taken against the employees, or whether any could be fired.

"I cannot reveal any action against anyone involved in this," he said. Under collective bargaining agreements, each employee is entitled to a special hearing.

At least 18 teachers at the Landing and Connolly elementary schools, which serve students in third through fifth grades, were believed to have coached students on 2012 state tests, sources familiar with the cases told Newsday. Separately, employees at the high school were alleged to have changed Regents exam scores, also in 2012.

In addition to the school district's probe, the state Education Department and the Nassau County district attorney's office are investigating. No charges have been brought in connection with any cases.

Maria Rianna, Glen Cove's new superintendent, would not divulge details about how the cases are being handled.

"We are working with the state Education Department and alongside the DA's office to ensure that things are done in an appropriate manner and we are all comfortable with the resolutions," said Rianna, who said she has been tracking developments for months.

Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn, asked about the status of the agency's probes, said, "We can't offer anything more specific than to say we are aware of the situations and are communicating with the district."

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office will defer to any sanctions imposed by the district and the Education Department, spokesman Shams Tarek said. The DA's office still could prosecute individuals, he said.

"We're working with the state Education Department and the Glen Cove City School District to ensure appropriate consequences and the best possible academic outcomes for the students," he said.

Glen Cove school officials said they will use the school year to heal and to focus on meeting tough new academic standards.

School board trustee Barrie Dratch said the district "is looking for closure" and hopes to "put everything behind us." She would not answer questions about any potential action against any employees.

Superintendent Joseph Laria resigned in May, only weeks before his scheduled retirement. The abrupt departure came after complaints erupted because he had allowed a high school student, under his supervision, to drive Laria's car in a district parking lot.

Rianna, 53, of Nesconset, was an assistant superintendent in the Smithtown district for two years before coming to Glen Cove schools. She has 31 years of experience, serving as an administrator in the Port Jefferson district for a dozen years before working in Smithtown.

Dratch, who teaches fifth grade in the Garden City school district, said Rianna is the right leader to see Glen Cove through this time, calling her dedicated and fair.

"She gives off a great leadership vibe," Dratch said.

You also may be interested in: