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Licensure Commission Suspends License of Clarksdale Municipal School District Teacher Due to Cheating

November 18, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. – The Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development decided today to suspend the license of Clarksdale Municipal School District teacher Tetra Winters after determining she violated state law by knowingly and willfully cheating on state assessments during the 2012-13 school year at Heidelberg Elementary School. Winters’ license will be suspended for five years.

The complaint filed against Winters was the second in an ongoing investigation into allegations of testing irregularities at Heidelberg Elementary School.

“Educators who cheat deprive students of the education they need and deserve,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We remain committed to pursuing the appropriate disciplinary action against others who were involved in the testing irregularities in Clarksdale.”

The complaint against Winters outlined two counts of acts, which 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)

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