ALGIERS, LA (WVUE) - The Algiers Charter School Association made administrative changes effective immediately following an investigation of possible test cheating at Landry-Walker High School during the 2013-2014 school year.
Principal Mary Laurie, Assistant Principal Taisha Williams-Payne, Assistant Principal Brian Gibson, and teacher and former test coordinator Trayvonia Duhe were all placed on administrative leave.
The allegations surfaced in an investigative story by Danielle Dreilinger published by our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
After the allegations arose, trustees of ACSA launched an internal investigation. Preventive measures were put in place in order to preserve the integrity of Landry-Walker's testing and educational environment, according to the association.
The ACSA is working with the Louisiana Inspector General and education department as it continues its investigation.
The school had test scores in 2013-2014 that did not line up with other academic results. The ACSA put monitors in each testing room. They did not witness any actual cheating, but noticed proctors will cell phones, changing schedules for testing students and unsecured testing documents.
In one case, a proctor left the room and kids started talking about how they could cheat on the online tests.
"One of the most difficult things I have ever done is place these educators on administrative leave, both from a professional and personal standpoint. Because the alleged testing improprieties occurred under their leadership, this decision underscores the serious nature of testing. Such behavior directly affects the stability of our education system and the welfare of our students," Interim ACSA CEO Rene Lewis-Carter said.
The ACSA has put acting school leadership measures in place.
As classes dismissed for the day, parents and students reacted to the allegations.
"I don't believe it. I don't believe that it went on," Landry-Walker parent Deunker Glasper said. "They made me feel like [the state] doesn't have confidence in these kids passing these tests."
Glasper and other parents defending Laurie saying the allegations are false and claim the scores declined because Landry-Walker took in a number of students from other schools.
"I know that they have a lot of kids that come from failing schools that probably weren't on the same level as the kids getting the same education from Walker and Landry-Walker combined. They had a lot of kids from schools that closed," Glasper said. "I wasn't in the classroom so I can't exactly say what was going on, but that's how I feel about it. They need to look at all aspects of it."
"What some of the students are saying is that every year they have a whole lot of new students coming in and you don't know what kind of school they come from," one student said.
Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard and leaders of schools throughout New Orleans will hold a press conference Tuesday to announce a plan for increased test security and monitoring.