Wednesday, April 08, 2015

If student hackers are "depraved," then Poway Unified School District is deeply depraved

This post was first published in May 2008.

I am republishing it in the light of the 2015 convictions of black teachers in Altanta for cheating on standardized student tests.

Apparently Atlanta is a lot like San Diego. 

When illegal activity happens in a school, local officials handle the issue in two very different ways. When the wrongdoer is an adult with political connections, taxpayer money is poured into that person's defense, and the schools go into cover-up mode. On the other hand, if the wrongdoer has no political connections, the school goes after him or her with a vengeance. The justice system stands ready to support schools and other public entities. You're fighting an uphill battle when you want justice from a pubic entity. See series of posts about shenanigans in Poway.  

There was an amazing case at Guajome Park Academy where teachers improperly changed grades, but instead of censuring the teacherd, the school sued a whistle-blower kid who hacked the school computer to prove the wrongdoing.

See also my comparison of the Atlanta cheating scandal and the bizarre color-coordinated indictments of school officials in San Diego.

I've learned a lot about dishonesty among San Diego County school officials over the past seven years.

I've been amazed and astounded by it.

However, I never thought of using the word "depraved" to describe Poway Unified School District. I'm thinking about it now. To start with, I will say this: if students who cheated on tests and changed grades are "depraved," then PUSD is definitely deeply depraved.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Assistant Principal Keith Koelzer says that the current cheating scandal at Rancho Bernardo High School is "unique in its depth of complexity and depravity."

PUSD has taken $100,000s of taxpayer dollars from education and used it to protect the arbitrary power of individuals in power. For example, at the same time that they are saying that Tyler Chase Harper can't wear an anti-gay T-shirt, they are appealing a court decision that they should pay $300,000 to two gay students whose harassment was ignored and permitted by PUSD.

Which is it, PUSD? Do you think gay students should be protected or not?

Poway has paid far more than $300,000 to fight this case: Donovan and Ramelli v. Poway Unified School District.

It would have been better to give the money to the students, or, better yet, to have protected the students and used the money for education.

But is PUSD depraved?

Encarta dictionary says depraved means "showing great moral corruption or wickedness."

Well, then, yes;  PUSD is depraved. But the students? I think they're too young to earn that title. We can't excuse PUSD on the basis of youthful hijinks.

RBHS assistant principal on hacking case: 'Unique in its depth of ... depravity'
By J. Harry Jones
May 1, 2008

RANCHO BERNARDO – An assistant principal revealed details of a cheating scandal uncovered at Rancho Bernardo High School, and his reaction to the decline of morality among some students, in an emotional memo to teachers.

“Our (worst) technological nightmare has just occurred,” Assistant Principal Keith Koelzer wrote. “At this point, we have identified 8 students (with varying degrees of involvement) who hacked into our school network, downloaded several teacher's files on the flashdrives, distributed tests to students days before they were administered and altered grades on student transcripts. The eight students are all Advanced Placement students, they are all smart, but they have no wisdom. “This case is unique in its depth of complexity and depravity.”
Koelzer sent the memo Saturday to teachers and other staff members by e-mail, the day after the scandal was uncovered. The San Diego Union-Tribune requested the memo, and the Poway Unified School District released it Thursday, with small parts of it redacted.
Until now, school officials have released few details about the ongoing investigation.
“On Friday, one student went into incredible detail of his movements in this deceit over the past two months,” Koelzer said in the memo. “After listening, I turned to his mother and asked, 'What do you think of this kind of morality?' The mother replied, 'I am not a mother anymore.' I asked the same question to the boy's father and he responded, 'This is not the morality of my ancestors.'”
Koelzer wrote that the pressure to get into a good college “has overly consumed one of our students. He described to his father and me how his transcripts were altered and personally delivered them to a college. As the student talked, I watched his father's face and I could see his 18-year dream of his child's UC education disappear.”
The names, ages and grade levels of the students have not been released.
“We must honor the due process of these students,” Koelzer said. “The stakes cannot be any higher for these students. They are staring at expulsion, questioning by police, questioning by our district technicians, (a) potential lawsuit by the district” and a rescinding of college offers.
On Monday, district Superintendent Donald Phillips said six students have been suspended while the investigation continues. Principal Paul Robinson said the police are aware of what has happened but are awaiting the results of the school investigation before proceeding..

No comments: