Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cheaters Prosper: Disgraced Crescendo CEO Wins $240,000 Settlement

The Crescendo cheating scandal in Los Angeles is old news (see here, here, and here). All of Crescendo’s schools have since been closed, their teachers let go, and their 1,400 students forced to relocate as a result of the 2010 scandal in which teachers were given advance copies of the state standardized exams to help better prepare their students. However, two separate investigations have now blamed the organization’s founder and CEO, John Allen, for ordering his schools’ principals to implicate the teachers in the scam.

The Los Angeles Times quoted an anonymous former Crescendo administrator who said, "He [Allen] said anyone who doesn't get with the program, this will be their last day at Crescendo." The Times article went on to say that most principals complied, according to an unreleased internal Crescendo report. The scandal broke when teachers reported the cheating attempts to LAUSD officials.

Despite LAUSD’s knowledge of the scandal, Allen was kept on as head of the charter network due to the help of Marguerite Poindextor LaMotte, a friend of Allen’s and a member of the Los Angeles School Board. LaMotte even got then Supt. Ramon Cortines (who is now enmeshed in his own sexual harassment scandal) to back Allen and keep the Crescendo schools open. However, once the scandal became public, LAUSD had to do damage control and gave Allen a 6-month, unpaid suspension, while still allowing him to come back as an administrator. The principals received wrist slap suspensions of 10 days.

While Allen supposedly admitted his guilt to a Crescendo trustee, he apparently did not admit guilt publicly and has since sued for wrongful dismissal, arguing that the allegations of testing irregularities were "unfounded." In April, he settled with Crescendo for $245,000 of their remaining assets.

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