White Collar Crime in Schools
When most people think of white collar crime, they imagine corporate boardrooms and national corporations. However, white collar crime can occur in the public sector as well — even the school system. While it may be difficult to imagine what type of white collar corruption could involve school administrators and teachers, recent news in the Commonwealth shows that corruption is not limited to corporate and political offices.
In a very high profile case emerging from the Cayuga Elementary School in North Philadelphia, several teachers and a school principal were indicted on the following charges stemming from a cheating scandal involving state-administered standardized tests:
The economic benefit to those accused of such conduct arises from the fact that the allocation of school support funds in Pennsylvania is often closely tied to the quality of students’ performance on the PSSA and other standardized tests. According to the grand jury indictment in this case, teachers and administrators created a culture of cheating over the course of five years, including providing correct answers to students during testing and altering test booklets after the fact by changing wrong answers to right answers. The resulting increase in scores brought about increased funding as well as promotions and other employment benefits for the participating teachers and administrators.
Even if done with the best of intentions, cheating and the falsification or altering of school records remains a crime. The fallout from this latest revelation suggests authorities are likely to investigate this type of conduct even more aggressively in other schools. Teachers, administrators or other public employees who have been implicated in this type of behavior need to contact an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.