Students Are Suspended in Stuyvesant Cheating
By AL BAKER
A dozen Stuyvesant High School students have been suspended and more than 50 others are facing suspension because of new evidence that has emerged in a continuing investigation of cheating during final exams in June, school officials said Friday.
Previously, the bulk of the students in the episode, which involved cellphones and embarrassed one of the country’s most prestigious public schools, faced only the loss of some class privileges, including the right to leave school for lunch or join the Student Union, an important college résumé-building activity.
But now, in addition to the 12 already suspended, 54 others who officials said were involved are facing possible suspension for up to five days. The 12 received suspensions of up to 10 days, the most severe form of the punishment, and will begin serving their punishments next week after hearings, Connie Pankratz, a spokeswoman for the New York City Education Department, said.
Lengths of the possible suspension for the other 54 will be set after the principal can schedule conferences with parents and the students, who were involved in cheating during end-of-the-year state Regents exams and a citywide language exam.
Ms. Pankratz said that for the students who received the lower form of suspension, known as a principal’s suspension, the punishment would not “go into their permanent record.” For students who receive the highest form of suspension, called a superintendent’s suspension, a superintendent would determine “how long it will stay on their record before it’s expunged.”
Suspensions do not automatically result in involuntary transfers to other schools, said Ms. Pankratz, who added that she could not comment on whether any of the Stuyvesant students would be transferred.
Any punishment presents increased pressure for affected students, all of them currently seniors in the midst of applying to colleges. There are 855 seniors at the school this year.
In a separate letter addressed to the high school community and dated Friday, the school’s new interim principal, Jie Zhang, made plain just how insidious academic dishonesty could be.
“Such acts undermine the reputation of this school and hurt our students individually and collectively,” Ms. Zhang wrote.
Also, Ms. Zhang wrote of the possibility of creating a school honor code, to be “a public sign of our commitment to uphold academic integrity.” She outlined plans for all students and their parents to sign an “academic honesty policy” that would acknowledge the penalties for infractions like plagiarism, resubmitting prior work and sharing answers to exam questions.
So far this school year, she has taken a harder line on the use of cellphones in the school, an Education Department official said. On Thursday and Friday, the first days of the school year, 17 cellphones were confiscated from students, the official said, and held until parents could come to retrieve them.
While cellphones are not permitted in city schools, several students have said that enforcement had been lax at Stuyvesant.
The school uncovered the cheating on June 18 after a cellphone confiscated from a 16-year-old junior led to messages that suggested students had been sharing information.
In August, the principal of 13 years, Stanley Teitel, announced his retirement from the Lower Manhattan school. Investigators with the Education Department are continuing their inquiry into whether Mr. Teitel and other school administrators followed protocol in reporting the initial episode to the city and the state, Ms. Pankratz, the department spokeswoman, said.
“As we said at the start of this investigation, we have zero tolerance for cheating or academic dishonesty of any kind, and the students involved in this incident will now face disciplinary action,” Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement.
“I want to thank Principal Zhang for her assistance and for the steps she has already taken to restore academic integrity.”