State keeps former Glen Cove High principal from classroom, administration

Glen Cove High School's former principal Dr. Joseph Glen Cove High School's former principal Dr. Joseph Hinton is shown on Feb. 18, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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The former principal of Glen Cove High School lost his New York State administrative and teaching certificates in connection with a 2012 grade-fixing scandal, state officials said Tuesday.

In addition, eight other people -- two at the high school and six at the elementary level -- agreed to pay fines of up to $13,000 each to the state Education Department, a spokesman for the agency said. They paid an equal amount to the school district itself, bringing the higher payments to roughly $26,000.

The district was embroiled in two cheating scandals in 2012; one involved grade changes to Regents exams at the high school level, and the other involved the improper coaching of fifth-grade students on state math and English language arts tests at the Connolly and Landing elementary schools.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has been investigating both cases.

Shams M. Tarek, a spokesman for her office, said investigators will review the state's actions and that it would consider criminal charges if warranted.

Michael Tweed, a guidance chair who sources said was a whistle-blower in the high school scandal, learned Monday night that his contract will not be renewed. He is slated to leave this summer and has referred all calls to his attorney.

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Joseph Hinton, the former high school principal, was not required to pay a fine, said state Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman.

But he did lose the certificates -- commonly called licenses -- needed to serve as a district administrator, and as a teacher in nursery school through sixth grade, special education and industrial arts.

Also, the eight people who paid fines were banned from overseeing administrative tests until they complete additional training in test administration and ethics, Burman said.

State officials have indicated that test results stemming from the elementary-level case could be invalidated. Burman said the issue has not yet been decided.

"When adults cheat on these exams, it's the children who suffer," Burman said. "That's why the department and the Regents are so intent on protecting and preserving the integrity of our assessments."

Superintendent Maria Rianna, who was not overseeing the district during the testing irregularities, said at Monday night's school board meeting that state representatives, present at the district to help oversee testing, recently complimented Glen Cove on its testing procedures.

Reached by phone Tuesday and asked about the fines, Rianna said, "I'm not commenting on that."

Glen Cove, a tight-knit community on the North Shore, was rocked by the scandals.

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In the first instance, administrators were alleged to have changed the grades of one or more students on Regents exams.

Newsday obtained a confidential report on the elementary case. It found that 22 teachers at Connolly and Landing supplied fifth-graders with correct answers, darkened answer forms for them or urged them to reconsider their responses on spring 2012 exams.

Most of the children had special needs or spoke English as a second language. Some scored so high that they no longer qualified for tutoring services.

The independent report found that 84.7 percent of the 60 children who were interviewed in that case "indicated they received inappropriate staff-directed assistance" on either the English language arts or the math test, or both.

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