Stuyvesant High School Students Face Suspension As New Evidence Emerges In Cheating Scandal Investigation

NEW YORK - APRIL 18:  Stuyvesant High School, one of the locations where the Tribeca Film Festival will be held April 18, 200
NEW YORK - APRIL 18: Stuyvesant High School, one of the locations where the Tribeca Film Festival will be held April 18, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

A dozen Stuyvesant High School students have been suspended for up to 10 days, with another 54 facing possible suspension for up to five days, as the Department of Education continues its investigation into the high-profile cheating scandal that rocked the elite New York City public school in June, the New York Times reports.

Previously, only six students faced suspension while dozens more were stripped of class privileges, including the right to leave school for lunch or be members of the Student Union. The Wall Street Journal reports that school officials discovered additional evidence over the summer, but declined to comment on specifics, citing an ongoing investigation.

The cheating ring, which was uncovered when 16-year-old junior Nayeem Ahsan was caught using a cell phone to take pictures of the state’s end-of-the-year Regents exams and text answers to more than 50 classmates, has led new principal Jie Zhang to enforce the citywide ban on cell phones in schools, according to the New York Daily News.

Whereas last year students were only issued a warning if caught with a phone, this year, the first offense yields a call home, while a second results in suspension.

The New York Times reports that on the first two days of the school year, 17 phones were confiscated from students and held until parents could retrieve them.

The 12 students deemed most liable in the cheating ring began serving their suspensions Monday for up to 10 days, with the exact number to be determined following a hearing. Department guidelines in effect last year allowed for a maximum sentence of 10 days, but beginning this year, students can be suspended for up to 90 days under the state’s revised disciplinary code.

WSJ reports that the other 54 students implicated in the cheating scandal will be given the opportunity to explain themselves to Zhang, but are likely to be suspended and have their privileges revoked, according to a city Department of Education official.

Zhang took over after former longtime principal Stanley Teitel announced his resignation in August amid an ongoing probe into whether he and his staff followed protocol in reporting the initial episode to the city and state.

In a letter addressed to the high school community, Zhang reiterated Stuyvesant’s zero-tolerance policy when it comes to academic dishonesty, and wrote about possibly implementing a school honor code, according to the Times. In the meantime, she is requiring students and parents to sign an “academic honesty policy” that details penalties for plagiarism, resubmitting prior work and sharing answers to exam questions.

“As we said at the start of this investigation, we have zero tolerance for cheating or academic dishonesty of any kind, and the students involved in this incident will now face disciplinary action,” Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement. “I want to thank Principal Zhang for her assistance and for the steps she has already taken to restore academic integrity.”