Springs School Reports Possible ‘Testing Irregularity’ To State Education Department

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The State Education Department is investigating a “possible testing irregularity” in the Springs School District during the state English language arts and math examinations last month.

According to a press release issued by the district on Saturday, the problem was an isolated incident involving only one staff member and one student.

That staff member is no longer with the school district, said School Superintendent Dominic Mucci on Monday. He declined to offer any other specifics on the incident, noting that the matter was under investigation by the state.

“It does involve employees,” Mr. Mucci said. “You can’t discuss the info about employees. And so we’ve been following the steps and protocols all the way. … Now we’re moving forward. We’re doing what we need to do. The state’s got to do their thing.”

Any firings or resignations at the school must be approved by School Board resolution, according to District Clerk Fran Silipo.

The only departure between April 16 and Monday was the surprise resignation of Dr. Katherine Byrnes of Northport, who had served as the district’s assistant principal since August.

Dr. Byrnes could not be reached for comment this week. Someone who answered the phone at her home on Monday said she was not interested in commenting.

Dr. Byrnes was last seen at the district on April 25, according to sources. The School Board voted on May 8 on to accept Dr. Brynes’s resignation dated May 7, with an effective date of May 31.

Asked if Dr. Byrnes was administering tests during the state assessment period last month, Mr. Mucci declined to comment. “I can’t share that with you,” he said. “What you’re asking is part of an investigation situation, that the state would be involved in.”

He did say there are certain protocols staff are supposed to follow while administering tests. Those protocols include things like how teachers distribute materials, what gets distributed, whether students are permitted to have scrap paper for the test, and reminding students that they cannot ask questions about certain subjects, Mr. Mucci said.

It was a student who reported the allegation to a staff member at the school, according to the district press release. The allegation was forwarded to the State Education Department immediately afterward, said Mr. Mucci.

The district press release stated that it was unknown how long the investigation will take, An official with the State Education Department said the agency does not comment on these matters.

“We have high expectations for our students and our staff and take pride in the integrity they display each and every day,” said School Board President Kathee Burke Gonzalez in a statement. “Aside from the question about this one particular allegation, we are confident that our recent assessments were delivered appropriately by our professional staff.”
Shaye Weaver contributed reporting.

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