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MDE Charges Second Clarksdale Teacher with Cheating on State Test

September 10, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) issued an administrative complaint on Sept. 9 against Tetra Winters, a teacher at Heidelberg Elementary School in the Clarksdale Municipal School District, for violating state law by knowingly and willfully cheating on state assessments.

This is the second complaint filed as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of testing irregularities at Heidelberg Elementary School. MDE is seeking to revoke the license of Winters.

“Our investigation has yielded evidence that Ms. Winters cheated during the 2012-13 school year,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We are committed to pursuing the appropriate disciplinary action against those who were involved in the testing irregularities.”

The complaint outlines two counts of acts, which if proven, constitute violations of state law pertaining to mandatory state testing. Specifically, the counts are:

  • Count 1: The Respondent coached examinees during testing or altered or interfered with examinees’ responses during the administration of the 2013 Mississippi Curriculum Test Second Edition (MCT2) in violation of § 37-16-4(1)(c) of the Mississippi Code of 1972.
  • Count 2: The Respondent participated in, directed, aided, counseled, assisted in, encouraged or failed to report any acts in violation of § 37-16-4(1)(f) of the Mississippi Code of 1972, during the administration of the 2013  Mississippi Curriculum Test Second Edition (MCT2).

Those actions are grounds for revocation or suspension of Winters’ teaching license. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 29 before the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development. The hearing will be held at South Pointe Business Park, 500 Clinton Park Drive in Clinton.

“We will not tolerate cheating by educators in Mississippi. Cheating deprives students of an opportunity to learn and puts them behind academically. Educators who engage in this type of conduct do not belong in the classroom,” Wright said.

As the investigation progresses, MDE will release its conclusions to the public after determining what actions, if any, it will take in response to the findings, and after each person affected by such actions, if any, are informed of MDE’s decisions.

MDE strives to ensure that all students in Mississippi receive a fair and complete education. A vital objective of standardized assessments is to ensure that students who require additional educational resources can be identified so that they may receive special services if they qualify. Fraudulent MCT2 test results deprive students who need special services from obtaining them because their test scores indicate that they do not qualify for the services.

The investigation into allegations of cheating at Heidelberg began in May 2014. Former Heidelberg Elementary School teacher Frances Smith-Kemp was the first to be served with a complaint alleging she was involved in testing irregularities. Smith-Kemp surrendered her teaching license on July 28, 2015.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist