DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Two school administrators are being reprimanded in the wake of an investigation into an AP exam for which hundreds of high school students who took it weren't told didn't count.
- After investigation, 2 administrators get letters of reprimand
- Parent on punishment: "I don’t see why that is acceptable"
According to documents related to an investigation conducted by Volusia County Schools into the exams taken by students of Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, the blame is falling on the school's principal and the county's chief academic officer.
The district determined that they made the wrong decision when giving out mock tests.
After an investigation resulting in hundreds of documents, Mainland High Principal Dr. Cheryl Salerno and Chief Academic Officer Teresa Marks were given letters of reprimand for being "guilty of violations of the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education profession in Florida."
"No matter how you face it, this was deception. Students thought that they were taking the real test, and they were not," Volusia County School Board Chairman Carl Persis said.
While some details are unclear, the investigation determined that Marks gave Salerno approval to only test some of the kids because of budget constraints. Salerno claimed she had approval from the College Board, but investigators determined she didn't.
"I don't know where that exact plan came up from. Let's just give them last year's test or some other kind of test so the student wouldn’t know," Persis said.
The letters of reprimand are not enough for Jen Reilly, whose daughter, Molly, took a mock test.
"It seems like she's the only, or her and the students like her, are the only ones that are being penalized," Reilly said. "The superintendent retired, Ms. Marks retired, Dr. Salerno was warned, but the students that took the fake test and received an A in the course who probably would have passed the test are out three college credits. And I am out $600," Reilly said.
"I don’t see why that is acceptable."
Salerno defended her actions to investigators, writing, "My decision to enroll the ninth-grade students in the AP Capstone Seminar course was purely for their benefit. There was absolutely nothing for me to gain in doing so."
Reilly said they still should have been told.
"If you want to do that, tell the people that you are using as guinea pigs to get your statistics and your data from to see if we are interested in participating. Don't play with my child's academic career," she said.
Persis said the school board will help the affected students, and parents will get a letter about this in a couple of weeks.
But there were mixed responses about what it will entail: Superintendent Tim Egnor said students will be given a chance to retake the exam. But Persis, the school board chairman, said students will not be able to do that but instead can enroll in another AP class.
Although the district investigation is completed, a state investigation is still underway, which could result in more consequences for those involved.