Bronx Principal Teaches Students Lesson in Cheating


For some students the idea of a principal who bumps up your undeserving performance might be great. None of the work, all of the credit. For most (hopefully) that educator would seem to be setting an incredibly poor example. Though, say, giving students credit for courses they didn’t even take might seem worthy of a Cameron Diaz movie, that’s what happened at a highly regarded Bronx middle and high school. Principal Lynn Passarella of the Theater Arts Production Company School was ousted Friday upon the discovery that she had falsely altered the school’s records, improving its overall performance. “The behavior uncovered in this report is dishonest and disgraceful, and shows a blatant disregard for principal responsibilities,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement, according to the New York Times. Yup. Sounds about right.

Passarella’s transgressions include telling teachers to only fail kids who didn’t show up, and to give those that didn’t turn in their work incomplete marks instead of Fs. She also changed students’ absences records. According to the Times:

The investigation of Tapco found multiple instances when school staff members had falsified transcripts by granting credits for classes that had no academic instruction. Three senior classes graduated having earned credit for “advisory” or “skills” classes, the equivalent of study hall, even though there was no instruction or curriculum for those classes, the report said. In lieu of physical education. they also received credit for a class called “wellness” that was not taught by a licensed physical education teacher, as state regulations require. The school did not have a physical education teacher until last school year.

In one example cited, a student who never took a Spanish course received five credits for Spanish.

The school had been awarded the highest marks of the schools graded in the city on its 2010 report card.

Passarella’s actions are a sad development in a world where we so highly scrutinize the numbers in our school system.

What Passarella did was undoubtedly terrible, and, yet, thankfully serves as yet another example of a lesson everyone should know by now: the results of getting caught cheating are worse than the boost that might come from the actual subterfuge.


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