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Defendants in Philadelphia Elementary School Cheating Scandal Appear in Court

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Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo and Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today was a day in court for the five Philadelphia public school staffers facing criminal charges in a cheating scandal (see previous story).

Four of the five, including Cayuga Elementary School principal Evelyn Cortez , now have a preliminary hearing on July 18th to face charges that they gave students answers to standardized tests.

Michael Walker, Cortez’ attorney, wouldn’t tip his hand as to how he planned to proceed, saying only that he would look at all of the evidence and present a good case.

No comment either from teachers Lorraine Vicente or Ary Sloane as they left today’s hearing.

They along with Rita Wyszynski and Jennifer Hughes are also accused of cheating on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

Attorney Michael Coard says his client, teacher Ary Sloane, will fight the charges.

“The allegations are different for each client.  So I’m looking at the allegations against my client, and we’re coming up with a strategy that is most effective for her,” he said today.

Still these educators are facing serious charges.

Wyszynski and Sloane charged with felony tampering with public records, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

On top of those charges, Cortez, Vicente and Hughes charged with felony corrupt organizations and perjury.

“We know a lot of folks who are factually innocent, are charged, some are even convicted, some are sentenced to prison. And then we find out years later they were completely innocent. Well that’s the kind of thing that is not going to happen here because she’s not going to be found guilty,” Coard said.

The school district has suspended all five without pay.

Longtime reading teacher Rita Wyszynski was the only one to waive her right to a preliminary hearing.  Her attorney, Sam Stretton, says she’s cooperating with investigators.

“I made an application with the attorney general’s office, trying to see if we can work out some arrangement for her,” Stretton tells KYW Newsradio, adding that his goal is to save his client’s pension.

Wyszynski will be back on court in June.


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