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."
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.