I would like to respond to the article on cheating in high school that appeared Nov. 13.
As dean of students at Crespi High School, I am in agreement that cheating is on the rise, but I differ from many of those interviewed who throw up their hands and say there is little that can be done to stem the tide.
I also disagree with the Dean of Students from Taft High School who said his job is not to punish students who are caught cheating.
I believe our responsibility in this regard is twofold. First, we must teach the students that cheating is inherently immoral and wrong, and second that a student who is caught cheating must be held accountable and face the consequences commensurate with his actions.
With these things in mind, 3 years ago I wrote, and the administration adopted, a three-stage policy in regard to cheating that has so far served us well. In our Parent/Student Handbook, cheating is defined as: "stealing, providing, receiving information or work from another. This includes cheat notes on papers, books, desks, hands, or anywhere else in the vicinity of the student's desk. It also includes copies of tests or answers to tests."
The first time a student is caught, he receives a zero on the test or assignment and his parents are informed. The second time a student is caught cheating, the student again receives a zero and will be suspended from the class until a meeting with the teacher, the parents, the student and me can be arranged. If a student is caught a third time, he will receive a semester fail for the class, and he will be placed on strict disciplinary probation. In the event a student is caught cheating a fourth time, he will be dismissed from Crespi High School.
It would be unrealistic to say that this policy has been 100% effective in eliminating cheating here at Crespi, but it is our response to the dramatic rise in the Machiavellian theory pervasive on campuses in which results are all that matter.
We are acutely aware that we are swimming upstream on this issue. While politicians, lawmakers and Wall Street financiers are facing charges from bribery to fraud and worse, we are trying to teach kids that results do not matter if they are obtained illegally or immorally. It is indeed an uphill battle, but parents and schools have consistently filled the role of the vanguard of values.
To shake our heads and say there is nothing that we can do about the problem is a great disservice to our communities, our profession, and most importantly, to our students.
GARY E. MURPHY