Metro teacher suspended amid TCAP cheating allegations

Metro teacher suspended amid TCAP cheating allegations (Image 1)

The director of schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools is recommending a seventh grade science teacher at Gra-Mar Middle School be dismissed after an investigation uncovered that he may have helped students taking the annual TCAP test.

The allegations came to light in April when students reported to Gra-Mar Middle School officials that they saw David Richard helping students with math problems during testing.

“I believe Mr. Richard assisted students with the math test by explaining to them how to work through problems that they had difficulty with during the math assessment,” Gra-Mar Middle School Principal Dr. Antoinette Williams wrote in a letter dated May 28, 2013.

The letter continued, “I believe that this was done by giving the students sticky notes that could enable them to go back and change their answers on the math portion of the test.”

She also noted that Richard reviewed the answers with a student who was absent from TCAP testing gave the day before.  That is a violation of the State of Tennessee Test Security Law.

Richard is suspended without pay pending the outcome of an employment hearing.

Richard has an attorney, but attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

During the principal's investigation she interviewed the teacher, students who said they saw him hand out the sticky notes and the three students who were observed getting the help.

According to meeting notes from Dr. Williams, Richard said he did not write directions on how to solve math problems on the sticky notes.

“He said the notes stated information such as, ‘Stop,' ‘Be Quiet' or ‘Stop tapping your pencil.'”

The principal noted inconsistency in statements from Richard.

The principal spoke to the students who Richard is accused of helping.

One student told them a student asked about a question on the math TCAP test and “Mr. Richard gave [redacted] an example of a problem just like the one on the math TCAP test. When asked how did they do it, was it worked on the board, or on a piece of paper or how? [redacted] said Mr. Richard gave it to them on a sticky note.”

The results of the principal's investigation were reviewed by Metro's legal department before Schools Director Dr. Jesse Register presented them to the school board Tuesday at the board's meeting.

“I recommend the dismissal of David Richard from employment as a teacher,” Register said.

The school district certified the charges against the teacher.

That step is part of the due process afforded to the teacher before he is terminated.

Richard will be able to present his side of the case to an impartial judge at a hearing that has not been scheduled.

Richard joined the district in 2010 and is not a tenured teacher.

He could have been fired at the end of the school year, but because he was not, the district must afford him the opportunity to present his case at a hearing before he can be terminated during the school year.

The district also reported the cheating allegations to the Tennessee Department of Education.

The department could suspend or revoke Richard's teaching license as a result.

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