LIVINGSTON, Texas - Livingston Independent School District is being investigated by the state after an audit found a faculty member was helping students cheat at Livingston High School Academy, and also revealed a violation in their admissions policy.
Livingston High School Academy is an alternative program.
According to its website, the academy serves as a dropout recovery and dropout prevention program, assisting students with their individual needs.
Student Shawn Williams spoke exclusively to FOX 26, saying he thought he was all done with the program in October when he took his exams, but last week he learned that his diploma is at stake because of the cheating scandal.
“It’s annoying. Trying to get done with it. Move on with my life,” says Williams.
His mother Jennifer Faires says this is all very frustrating for her son, “because who wants to be out of school for six months and go back? And then it’s just for one class, so that kind of puts me in a bind. I work, you know I can’t get there to pick him up and drop him off for one class every day. So, for both of us, it affects both of us.”
It affects many students of Livingston High School Academy and their parents.
A letter went out last week informing them that the superintendent conducted an audit.
It revealed that some students were admitted fraudulently into the program and/or were not residents of Livingston.
However, the most shocking finding was that a teacher allegedly prepared binders for students that contained test questions and answers.
Williams tells FOX 26 that’s exactly what happened.
“They gave you a book, and instead of going through tutorials and stuff they gave you the book that had the answers. Which you had to read, you had to find the answers to pass, and they told us that was the only way you’re going to be able to pass the credit.”
Students passing an entire semester in mere minutes!
The teacher responsible was fired earlier this month, and the school principal has resigned.
Parents are outraged since the students have to make up credits after being out of school for several months.
For Shawn, it means his dream of being accepted into a school for welding is on hold.
“So he only has to make up one credit, but if he doesn’t pass that he has to go back. Which is not, it puts us all in a bind. I work, my husband works, my mom works, it’s hard to get him back-and-forth to school. So it’s just, and it stops his life as well,” says Faires.
Livingston ISD issued this statement:
“A recent audit conducted at the direction of the Superintendent of Schools revealed substantial admission and academic policy violations at the Livingston High School Academy. The campus principal resigned when presented with the investigative findings, which revealed that students were fraudulently admitted into the Academy that did not meet at-risk criteria and/or were not Livingston residents. The audit also revealed gross negligence in his oversight of the classroom and conduct of its lead teacher, who was terminated by the Board at the special called meeting held on February 3rd, for cultivating academic dishonesty in her classroom. Binders were prepared by the teacher containing test questions and answers for students to use when completing course work and examinations. This resulted in students accelerating through classes required for graduation at astronomical speed, some completing entire semester courses in mere minutes and an entire high school curriculum in weeks.
The District is acting swiftly and in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency to remediate the violations.
This will require all Academy students illustrate mastery to regain credit awarded in all core courses during the fall 2019 semester. Letters were sent to parents of students impacted.”
FOX 26 reached out to the TEA, they confirmed that they are investigating, but couldn’t comment any further.
Shawn’s mother believes others were involved in helping the students cheat on their exams. She is hoping the investigation will uncover this, and that they will face disciplinary action.