Two Vero Beach High School teachers could be fired for cheating allegations

Posted at 4:31 AM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 09:20:43-05

Two teachers in Indian River County could be out of a job after the superintendent says they helped students cheat to increase their performance-based pay.

Now, nearly 400 students are suffering the consequences.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Rendell is recommending termination for two Vero Beach High School teachers, Alison Moody and Ralph Vaughn.


In letters sent to both teachers, Rendell details the allegations against each teacher.

In the letter to Vaughn, Rendell details that Vaughn taught classes in the Career and Technical Education area dating back to 2013. In those classes, an industry certification test was administered.

Rendell said Vaughn took the computerized tests before the students, breaching testing confidentiality requirements. 

He's accused of logging onto the test using fictitious names like "George Washington," "Abraham Lincoln" and "Speedy Gonzales." He would use his own proctor number to take the test, according to Rendell.

During an investigation, Rendell says Vaughn indicated he did this to make sure the students could take the test without problems. 

Further, Rendell said the test was supposed to be administered in one seating. Rendell said Vaughn would allow students to see the test questions, then have students unplug their computer data-wires, causing the test to "freeze" overnight and students could resume the test the next day.

Vaughn claimed this was done to make sure students had enough time to finish the test. Rendell says it violates testing protocols.

Moody also taught in the Career and Technical Education area, according to Rendell. He claims she, too, took the test before the students, then showed the actual exam in front of her class, releasing the questions, to prepare them for when they took the exam.

Rendell listed the following consequences of the teachers' actions:

1. All students' tests were invalidated for the 2015-16, and 2016-17 school years, causing them to lose their industry certification.
2. The actions place students' math credits in jeopardy.
3. The school grade is at risk of being altered by the Florida Department of Education.
4. The reputation of Vero Beach High School as being a school that operates with integrity has been compromised.
5. Current students will be unable to use assessments administered by Certiport because the company has suspended Vero Beach High School from using the program.
6. The actions constitute attempted fraud, given that teachers are eligible for industry certification bonuses in the amount of $2000 per year for student industry certification performance.
7. The actions constitute attempted fraud, because teachers are eligible for salary increases for student performance, which is in part based on industry certification results.

A spokesperson for the Indian River County School District says the classes that took the test were Digital Information Technology/Intro to Information Technology, Accounting I, II and III, Digital Design I, II, and III and Digital Video I, II, and III.

Staff members have begun reviewing transcripts and meeting with students and parents to discuss any changes to transcripts. District staff members have also taken actions to make sure this will not happen again, according to Flynn Fidgeon, Public Information Officer.

The teachers will be recommended for termination at a Feb. 6 board meeting.