David Mike hearing: Second JCPS worker disciplined in cheating s - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

David Mike hearing: Second JCPS worker disciplined in cheating scandal

David Mike David Mike
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A second Jefferson County Public Schools employee faces discipline in the continued fallout over the cheating scandal at Male High School last fall, JCPS administrators said Wednesday.

The information came as a lawyer for fired Principal David Mike grilled Superintendent Donna Hargens over Mike's termination.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Tribunal begins for fired principal accused of cheating]

The former Male High School principal is asking a tribunal panel to overturn JCPS administrators' decision to fire him in October. Wednesday, JCPS lawyers -- acting as the prosecution in the trial-like tribunal -- rested their case. Mike's defense will begin in earnest on Friday.

Mike is accused of allowing or encouraging teachers to assist students while they took the ACT test at Male in fall 2013.

[PREVIOUS STORY: JCPS terminates embattled principal's contract]

Rhonda Branch, a Male counselor, will be reassigned to a different school counseling position and forced to take training classes after a JCPS investigation revealed she was also involved in the cheating scandal.

The 25-page probe, released in September but made public late Wednesday, details how witnesses saw Branch provide extra paper to students as they took their exams, which allowed them to write down questions and circulate them throughout the school.

Witnesses also described how former Male teacher Debbie Greenberg gave students the answers to the test. Greenberg has since retired from the district and JCPS isn't pursuing any punishment against her.

William Walsh, Mike's lawyer, wanted to know why Hargens didn't punish Greenberg or Branch more severely.

"If David must be terminated, is it proper that no punishment be meted out (to the other two)?" Walsh questioned.

Eight witnesses, including Hargens, testified on Tuesday.

[PREVIOUS STORY: JCPS terminates embattled principal's contract]

When asked if she thought the staff at Male helped students cheat on the ACT, Hargens testified Wednesday afternoon that she thought "there was an environment that had multiple things going on at once."

Hargens later said she thought Mike, being the principal, was responsible for testing at the school, as well as the testing environment and the integrity of the test.

It was revealed on Tuesday that some students were taking practice ACTs alongside other students taking the actual test. A teacher detailed how Mike asked her to quietly get rid of notebooks that students used to take the practice test because they could've contained evidence.

Wednesday, Hargens testified that she thought Mike understood what the directive was from ACT when he told that teacher to get rid of the notebooks.

"To know that there were live, loose questions from the ACT in the school, that's a big deal," Hargens said.

Mike's lawyer contended that, whatever happened in the testing room, the principal wasn't involved. Those testifying against Mike are seeking revenge because of the principal's decisions about overstaffing, his lawyer said.

Dr. Paige Hartstern, an assistant superintendent for JCPS, testified that the atmosphere at Male wasn't very good after overstaffing.

"I understood that it was a very stressful situation," said Hartstern. "Based on what he shared, he felt like it was hostile."

Hargens testified she didn't know if Mike helped students cheat on the ACT but that the testing environment wouldn't prevent cheating from happening.

Walsh questioned why Hargens would take the word of Male graduate Lauren Schanz, who testified that Mike asked her to "make him sound good" before she talked with investigators about the case, over the word of the principal.

JCPS concluded its case late Wednesday, which prompted Walsh to ask for a directed verdict. The panel denied his motion, so Walsh started calling witnesses to the stand.

Retired JCPS Assistant Superintendent Joe Burks, who worked closely with Mike when the latter was an assistant principal at Seneca, testified first.

"If the faculty needed something at Seneca, David was on it," said Burke. "Teachers didn't have to write a referral and wait a week and who said what, and who was right, and David was very proactive with helping the staff with systems and structures."

Testimony will continue on Friday, and Walsh said he expects to call Mike to the stand.

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