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L.A. Unified moves forward in process to close Crescendo schools for cheating

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to issue a formal notice of violations against each campus among a group of six South Los Angeles charter schools involved in a cheating scandal. But some board members and incoming L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy left open the possibility that Crescendo charter schools could stay open if Crescendo responds appropriately.

The violation notices came in response to cheating that occurred before last year’s state standardized tests, when Crescendo Executive Director John Allen allegedly ordered principals to have teachers prepare students using the actual test questions.

The Crescendo “schools have the next step in their hands,” Deasy said. “Staff will work with you.”

The school board acted after listening for more than 90 minutes to impassioned pleas from parents, teachers, students and the head of Crescendo’s own board to keep the schools open. More than 150 Crescendo supporters demonstrated outside.

“They’re doing a great job at Crescendo teaching these students,” said parent Aaprel McGee, praising the teachers, some of whom came forward to report the cheating. The students shouldn’t lose their school “just because a knucklehead did something wrong.”

Speaking in Spanish, parent Jessica Lopez said that she’d returned to school herself to keep up with how fast her children are learning, and that they’d done worse academically in other schools.

“We teach our scholars how to act with honesty, integrity and trustworthiness,” said teacher Lisa Sims. To close the schools after teachers risked their jobs to report the problem tells children “that it does not pay to do the right thing,” she said. “That speaking out against injustice ... isn’t worth it.”

Board member Yolie Flores sounded persuaded, saying that she would be reluctant to vote for closing down the schools when it came time for a final vote, probably in late April.

“We are a board that says we put children first,” she said.

But board member Nury Martinez countered: “I love the passion that all of you displayed. [But] the fact that no adults were held accountable sends a horrible message to children.”

The Crescendo board fired Allen in March when a forced shutdown became likely. Principals allegedly involved in the cheating are still working at the schools. It isn’t clear how many teachers took part in cheating. Allen has not responded to requests for interviews.

A parent at the demonstration, who declined to give her name, blamed only Allen: “If your boss told you to do something, would you do it? I would. Everybody is scared to lose their jobs.”

She added: “Everybody cheats. They just got caught.”


Founder of Crescendo charter schools fired

L.A. school board to close six charter schools caught cheating

L.A. Unified set to renew charter contract despite evidence of cheating

-- Howard Blume

California Schools Guide

Comments () | Archives (14)

Will Stevenson Middle School continue to be a mayor partnership school? This is the third year and will lausd allow all stake holders to vote?

Seal all tests. Teachers and other personnel have way too much access to what is becoming high-stakes outcomes. SEAL THE TESTS!

the parent who declined to give her name said "everybody cheats" yes, in her family.the lausd should do what they did in a third world s.a. country. when tests were given, teachers from other schools would administer them.

Per the article:

She added: “Everybody cheats. They just got caught.” - NO, not everyone CHEATS! Educators are being told to teach the test - give sample questions. But, the true educators - don't do it! The highly qualified teachers nurture a love for learning, critical thinking, and curiosity.

The Principals should go if they didn't report this, but not the teachers. They should not have been put in this position. They might think about promoting the teachers who reported the cheating to the position of principal.

I don't cheat.

What no one wants to talk about is charter school accountability. Charter law in CA states that charters can be revoked for many reasons, including what happened at Crescendo. It was painful listening to parents begging the board to not close down their school. It's true, the kids should not have to pay for the actions of adults, but it's wrong to not provide a strong punishment for those who break the law. As in the recent revelations in D.C. while Michelle Rhee was chancellor and the major investigation going on with the Atlanta schools, there is most likely massive cheating going on all over the country. Diane Ravitch wrote a piece in yesterday's Ed Week on "the Texas Miracle" which cast a dark shadow on past claims of great education success. High stakes testing is the one and only cause of this rash of improprieties and yes, cheating is most likely rampant. But that does not make it okay. Instead, it points to a massive problem that must be dealt with as a basic failure of our educational system that is diverting attention away from the real causes like 25% poverty and incredibly low respect and support for the teaching profession.

"Everyone cheats." What a bunch! I never cheated on tests. I knew better because I was taught better morals by my parents and knew there were consequences to wrong behavior! And since when is cheating ever okay?

If you don't want to close the schools, then oust the principle and the teachers who participated in the cheating! Keep the teachers who were honest enough to endanger their careers by coming forward.

The problem with this is the students suffer no matter what. If you teach students to cheat on this test, then they enter the world unprepared to become productive, because they were never really taught properly! As a result, they are more likely to continue the behavior taught in their school.

Why is this a surprise? LAUSD is corrupt and this is a first of many scandals to become public. There needs to be more investigation and more accountability for the second largest schools district in the nation.


Although the owner of Crescendo is the main one to blame, he is not the ONLY one who needs to take accountability. Every single teacher and principal who went along with the cheating, should be fired and not be allowed to teach again. Once a cheater, always a cheater. True educators would never cheat children from learning, no matter how scared they were to lose their job. It's pathetic that these principals are taking no responsibility for what they did. I don't care how threatened I may feel, I will always do the right thing. This is exactly why teachers need to go through ethical training and there should be higher standards to become an educator. The adults must be reprimanded for breaking the law. It's just sad that the innocent children have to pay for the mistakes of teachers and administrators who were in charge of their education.

And echoing the sentiments of others...not everyone cheats. Clearly that parent who declined to give her name, teaches her children no morals, therefore, she sees no problem with this issue.

One thing that hasn't been stated in the reports is that the schools didn't actually cheat. They were instructed to, but did not. Instead, they reported John Allen. Because the readers/public hasn't attended a board meeting they are only left to believe what's being reported.

Not everyone cheats. If they did, LA Times would have to report that all teachers were exceptional, not slam them at every turn. All schools would meet AYP, and no schools would be Program Improvement. My school's scores are n All the adults not great, but they are TRUTHFUL and HONEST. The adults at those schools should have shown more integrity. If all of them had, instead of just a couple, those schools wouldn't be in jeopardy. Was it worth it to cheat? Teach kids cheating is wrong - but only if you get caught? Also, to those who say,"LAUSD is corrupt," these are not really LAUSD schools. The administrators, teachers, etc., are not LAUSD professionals. They are corporation employees who do whatever they're told. Teachers et al in LAUSD may not be perfect, but most do what is morally right, and have a chance to stand up for ourselves if anyone says otherwise. Crescendo's teachers don't. Which is better - looking better on paper by cheating, or lower scores through upstanding behavior. I don't know one LAUSD teacher who doesn't push themselves every day to do the best job they can.

Go ahead and give Cresendo a slap on the wrist and let them stay open. Isn't that the way things are done around here?

this charter school chose the musical term crescendo as its name. crescendo means gradual rise and this charter school did the opposite. it heralded its arrival on the edubusiness scene by clashing cymbals( great test scores on standardized tests). their cacophonic entry brought them scrutiny and exposure as frauds. bewildering though is lausd's still considering letting these crooks and cheats continue to run a school because they don't want to alienate the parents of LA's newest geniuses,


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