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."
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.