Charla Gail says her daughter was treated unfairly by ESA. "I've never heard of someone being accused of something and then never having anything to say whatsoever in the matter," she says. Katherine Glod did not return repeated calls for comment.
According to Charla Gail, and the language in the lawsuit, ESA's administrative culture fostered an environment that made cheating by students inevitable. ESA teacher Dr. Arthur White reportedly administered the same tests year after year to students in his western civilization classes. The lawsuit contends that students circulated the tests amongst themselves. "This has been going on for 15 years," says Charla Gail, "and we had several past graduates who said, 'Yeah, we did it.' They all did it."
In the syllabus for the class, White wrote: "It is NEVER permitted to study from a test given in a previous year, or any other copy of any past or present version of the test, no matter how it was obtained." The teacher warned that doing so constituted a violation of one of the school's unique elements ' the Honor Code.
Students at ESA are expected to live by the school's code of honor, which states in part, "As a member of Episcopal School of Acadiana, I pledge I will not lie, cheat, or steal, or withhold information concerning those who do." The code defines cheating as "giving or receiving any unauthorized information on any quiz, test, examination or other written work." This code of conduct is upheld by the school's Honor Council, which consists of nine students as well as the school's dean of students and two appointed faculty members.
If a student is suspected of lying, cheating, or stealing, he or she can be called before the Honor Council. While the parents of the student are notified of the hearing, they are not allowed to attend; instead, a faculty advisor accompanies the student. If found guilty of violating the code, the disciplinary action for a student can range from "honor probation to permanent separation from the school." The code also states that "honor offenses and consequences do not appear on the student's transcript." The headmaster does not participate in Honor Council proceedings, but has the authority to reverse Honor Council decisions.
Hiram Goza had been the headmaster of the school for more than a decade. In an April 30, 2004, nine-page letter to the parents of ESA students, Goza announced that some students had been "separated from ESA" for cheating and outlined the school's code and process for appearing before the council.
In another letter just days later, then-Board of Trustees Chair RenÃ©e Durio wrote that the board had voted to uphold the council's decision, but added that the board would also review the current honor system and conduct code. In the same letter, Durio announced, "We have decided not to extend Headmaster Hiram Goza's contract beyond its last year, ending July 1, 2005." ("Hiram Goza 'dismissed' in wake of ESA cheating scandal," May 12, 2004.)
"Hiram was fired," says Charla Gail Glod. She says ESA denied that the cheating investigation played a role in not renewing Goza's contract, but says the timing of the board's announcement proves otherwise. Goza did not return calls for comment.
In their lawsuit filed last week in 16th Judicial District Court in St. Martinville, the Glods sued ESA, the school's board of trustees, Lynn Blevins (the interim headmistress), Jon Berthelot (the dean of students), and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. Goza and White are not named as defendants.
The lawsuit states: "... using the old tests was such a common and widespread practice that it appeared to Ms. [Katherine] Glod that Juniors who avoided any use of the old tests were a distinct minority." The suit also contends, "By his refusal to follow sound testing protocols, Dr. White virtually invited students to cheat, while at the same time reminding them to be faithful to the Honor Code. All of the responsibility fell upon the students to avoid the temptations which literally were placed in their hands."
When allegations of cheating surfaced, Glod was called before the Honor Council. In the suit, the Glods admit that Katherine initially denied any involvement or knowledge about cheating. She later confessed to Berthelot that she had lied in her initial Honor Council testimony. The lawsuit says, "Ms. Glod decided that it would be better to do the right thing and truthfully report her honor violation." She reportedly convinced two of her friends to also tell the truth about their cheating involvement.
On the morning of April 28, Dr. Glod repeatedly tried to call Goza. Unable to reach him, he started driving to ESA when Goza called him on his cell phone. According to the suit, Dr. Glod stated to Goza: "I don't want her to get an 'F' on her transcript and I don't want her expelled. If either of those are possibilities, I will withdraw her right now." Goza's alleged response was, "You don't need to worry about it. She may receive some punishment, but it won't be bad."
Despite Goza's assurance, Katherine was dismissed from ESA later that day, along with 10 other students linked to the cheating investigation. The next day, Dr. Glod withdrew his daughter from the school to enroll her at Lafayette High School. Months later on Sept. 3, according to the suit, the Glods learned that Katherine had received an "F" from ESA in her western civilization class.
Charla Gail says the students who were dismissed from the school were singled out. "There were other kids who did the same thing, and nothing happened to them," she says. "The juniors told the truth, and they were severely punished." The lawsuit contends: "A substantial number of Juniors who were initially untruthful did not later report themselves or otherwise admit their use of old tests, and continue to attend ESA today."
Greg Guidry of Onebane Law Firm, speaking on behalf of both Blevins and Joanie Hill, the chair of the board's trustees, says, "We will be defending ESA and the board in this suit, but we're not going to make any comment about pending litigation at this time." Attorney John G. McLure, who represents the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, also refused comment, saying that he had not yet seen the lawsuit.
Katherine Glod, now 18 years old, is taking classes at Lafayette High to get her high school diploma. Her mother worries that the ESA incident could affect her daughter's collegiate aspirations and professional career. "For us it's almost too late," she says. "The transcripts [for applying to colleges] were due on Jan. 15."
For Charla Gail, the lawsuit boils down to one issue. "All we want is the 'F' off of her transcript," she says. "That's all we've ever wanted."
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.