Fmr. Philadelphia principal arrested in PSSA cheating case

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A former principal has been charged in a cheating scandal.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office has arrested a former principal for allegedly changing answers on the PSSA in order to boost test scores.

43-year-old Lolamarie Davis-O'Rourke of Williamstown, New Jersey was charged with one count of tampering with public records or information, forgery, tampering with records, and criminal conspiracy.

It is the eighth public corruption arrest in Attorney General Kathleen Kane's ongoing investigation into widespread cheating in the district and elsewhere in the state.

"This type of public corruption in our education system deprives children of opportunities for learning," Attorney General Kane said in a statement. "It undermines educators' abilities to evaluate progress and set a course for our children's successes. This Office will continue to hold accountable corrupt school employees who put their own interests ahead of those of students in the classroom."

Davis-O'Rourke was principal at Alain Locke Elementary School from 2009 to 2012.

Authorities say Davis-O'Rourke proctored students to change answers from wrong-to-right, directed teachers to help students switch answers and rewrite written responses, and changed the locks to a storage room so that only she and the building engineer could access stored test booklets

Davis-O'Rourke also allegedly changed answers and instructed some of her staff to correct wrong answers.

All teachers were required to provide Davis-O'Rourke with a list of how each of their students were expected to perform, according to the presentment, and to identify "bubble students" or those with potential to increase their PSSA proficiency level.

In addition to elementary students, Davis-O'Rourke also proctored special education students, and arranged for one such student to return to Locke elementary after being transferred out for the sole purpose of taking the PSSA in "a favorable testing environment," according to the grand jury.

Davis-O'Rourke was taken into custody Wednesday.

Anyone with information regarding suspected cheating on standardized tests in Pennsylvania is encouraged to call the Office of Attorney General at (610) 631-5987.
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