Investigators say cheating tainted Miami Norland industry program

A Miami Norland Senior High School program through which hundreds of students have earned state industry certifications has been tainted by cheating, according to the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General.

A report released this week to the Miami-Dade school district states that the lead teacher of Norland’s Academy of Information Technology gave students the questions and answers to Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver computer-program exams, and allowed them to use study guides during testing in 2012.

The cheating, alleged to have taken place at one point in the presence of a second teacher, undermines the school’s partnership with the state and business community, according to the Aug. 26 report.

“More disturbing, the students who were provided with this cheat sheet or were allowed to use their study guides were taught a lesson that cheating is OK,” states the report, signed by interim Inspector General Patra Liu.

Emmanuel Fleurantin, the lead teacher and exam proctor, denied the allegations in a response to the investigation. So did his colleague, Brenda Muchnick, who said she wasn’t even present during testing.

“No study guides were allowed in the test room, and no one gave anyone any answers,” wrote Fleurantin.

Added Muchnick: “I am extremely upset by these false allegations that question my integrity and professionalism.”.

According to the IG’s report, investigators began looking into cheating in May 2012 after then-Norland teacher Willie Gant reported that two students who had previously struggled with the Photoshop test claimed they passed because Fleurantin gave them the answers.

Gant said he also found unauthorized printouts of the exam with highlighted answers in a computer lab where the test was administered.

Investigators interviewed about two dozen students who were tested, roughly half of whom said they were either given the answers to the test or were allowed to use study guides, which is against district and state regulations.

Students said the cheating took place on three exams in January and April, the latter of which, some said, was assisted by Muchnick.

Gant also told investigators he suspected cheating because the number of students earning certification in 2012 jumped form 17 to 452, and said some students who passed never took the course. Principal Reginald Lee, however, said the program’s successes were due to increased classes, faculty and demands he placed on results.

He also filed an affidavit calling Muchnick a teacher of “integrity.”

Whether Muchnick or Fleurantin will be punished is up to the Miami-Dade School Board and the district, which is investigating the allegations.

District spokesman John Schuster said in a statement that “the administration’s position has been to recommend termination in circumstances like this.”