In a lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court on October 4, 2012, a Stuyvesant senior allegedly involved in the June cheating scandal sued Jie Zhang, Interim Acting Principal at Stuyvesant High School, and Dennis Walcott, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for hurting her chances of being accepted into college.
The senior, who filed the lawsuit under the alias of “Student Doe,” argues that she did not cheat on the Regents examinations, and as a result should not have had her English, US History and Physics Regents scores cancelled by the DOE.
According to the suit, on June 13, 2012, the day of the Physics Regents, then-junior Nayeem Ahsan sent text messages containing exam answers to Student Doe’s cellphone. Student Doe alleges that she had turned her phone off during the exam in the presence of a witness and that she did not see Ahsan’s message until after she left Stuyvesant. At that point, she sent a message to Ahsan in which she told him to stop sending her exam answers.
Student Doe originally received grades on these Regents exams, which were added to her official school transcript. When news about the scandal broke out in the media, Doe’s father telephoned the school multiple times to learn about the investigation and punishments surrounding the incident, according to the official court petition. He was allegedly told “Nothing will happen between now and September,” by then Principal Stanley Teitel.
Student Doe admitted receiving answers for the Physics regents, but not for the US History or English examinations. On Monday, July 9, however, Doe learned that DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott had chosen to cancel all the Regents results for each student suspected of cheating, a decision that was later approved by Interim Acting Principal Jie Zhang. Doe and her parents were overseas when this was announced and were therefore unable to protest. The cancellation included Regents exams other than physics that Student Doe insists she had not received answers for, and all grades were removed from her transcript.
Student Doe’s lawyer, Michael Rakower, also pointed out that Doe’s score on the Physics exam was “inconsistent with the stellar, and virtually identical, scores obtained by students who had received answers to the exam while they were taking the test.”
The suit also claims that although Zhang’s name is listed as the signatory of the Principal’s Decision, DOE officials wrote the entire letter, and that Zhang never observed “a single article of evidence supporting the findings of fact identified in the Principal’s Decision.”
Student Doe was looking for an interim resolution to the case by October 15, 2012, so that the cancelled Regents exams would not affect her early-decision college applications, but she now fears that the process will take several weeks. “Every college admissions officer in the country is aware of the scandal at Stuyvesant,” Rakower told The Wall Street Journal.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez denied Doe’s request on Tuesday, October 9, but further legal action may be pending. Rakower and the DOE have both refused to comment until the second part of the case is finalized. The student is not able to retake the examinations until January 2013.