NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –A Department of Education investigation is underway at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan after a student allegedly tried to share Regents exam answers with dozens of his classmates.
The student alleged to be at the center of the Stuyvesant cheating scandal, identified as Nayeem Ahsan, was apparently taking cell phone pictures and texting answers.
1010 WINS’ John Montone Reports
In a letter to the parents of students who got the texts, Stuyvesant principal Stanley Teitel wrote “I confiscated a cell phone from a student whose initials are N.A. When I went through the inbox of his phone I found that your child had engaged in text messaging involving the various June 2012 Regents with students taking the exam.”
Stuyvesant’s principal told parents that if their children were involved in texting, they would be barred from leadership positions and other activities.
The proctor reportedly found screenshots of the answers to the Spanish, physics and English exams and evidence that the student sent those answers to more than 50 classmates, all via his cell phone.
“I’m not a hundred percent surprised that someone was cheating,” said 15-year-old sophomore Zane Sterling. Sterling was in the classroom taking his 3rd year Spanish Regents exam last week when he said the school’s principal walked into the room and directly over to a junior named Nayeem Ahsan.
“He took Nayeem and he basically said ‘come with me to the principal’s office.’ Nayeem said ‘why’ and he said ‘because I’m the principal, that’s why,’” Sterling told CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown
Cell phones are banned in all public city schools, a controversial policy put in place by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and one that he’s faced a lot of criticism for. But Bloomberg has justified the policy by saying, in part, that the temptation to use cell phones to cheat is just too great.
“Everyone says phones aren’t allowed in New York City public schools, but that’s basically not followed,” said student Leopold Spohngellert.
An online petition was formed to support Ahsan. The petition seeks to get Ahsan reinstated at the school, as it claims he was expelled for taking and sharing the photos. Those signing the petition online suggested the decision to punish Ahsan was too harsh.
However, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told CBS 2 the student was not expelled.
It’s not clear if the students were soliciting answers or paying for them. Some wonder how the scheme was supposed to work.
“I mean all the students are taking the regents at the same time. I’m shocked, I was not expecting this to happen,” said Diana Dmitrichenko, a sophomore.
Many told Brown this isn’t the first they’ve heard of cheating at the school.
“Most people don’t cheat, but… it’s a thing,” Sterling said.
Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott says the scandal does not necessarily mean that there’s a problem with the monitoring of test-taking.
“This is not about the system of the Department of Education. It’s about one student in a school that happens to be a prestigious school that does excellent work and produces excellent results,” Walcott said.
Walcott also said he will draw no conclusions until the investigation is completed.
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