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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Falsely Accused of Cheating

    My question involves education law in the State of: Texas
    The faculty in my nursing program found a test bank in the printing lab. I received an email to meet with my professor. Went to my appointment with her this morning... They googled the test bank and found out they are commonly in .rtf format. So they went back and found out who the students were that printed .rtf files within 5 days prior to that. They did this based on our ID numbers, which we enter when printing, but which are not password protected. I denied, denied, denied.

    Then I did research. They encourage us to use the webpage for our text for supplemental studying. Many of us print out the chapter outlines, which are in .rtf format. The file they said I printed was one of these outlines for an exam for a different class. I told my professor this and sent her the file and she said ok but the attributes are different..which I assume was file size/page number. I modify the margins to give myself room to take notes on. I don't have this original file. She hasn't gotten back to me yet.

    Other students noticed this too and told her. She told some that that's fine but it's going to stay in our record with a note attached.

    They have notified the "entire faculty" in our nursing program of our names. Is this a FERPA violation or even slander? I understand notifying my professors who I am currently taking, but the entire department? It seems like some kind of breech of privacy.

    I was recently invited to join the honor society, but some of the staff thinks we should not be allowed to join now. I don't want to join now because I will be standing there being initiated with the staff initiating me thinking I'm not "honorable".

    I should note that my school is in a small town and the faculty are all friends. We've had a previous problem with a professor and went to the chair and were scolded for doing so. Another professor involved (she's some sort of authority figure in the program, a coordinator) also spoke poorly about students by name to a fellow student in her place of employment. That student is not willing to come forward with this.

    She also mentioned that those being suspected of cheating had their grades drop this past test because the professors stopped using the test bank. I pointed out to her that my grade remained the same and was, in fact, 10 points above the average. All she could say was "well, I didn't pull up your individual grade".

    My school has no law services for students. I'm afraid to follow the hierarchy in my department, and I am also afraid to go to student affairs, but I know something needs to be done. I work hard and value my reputation. Can I do anything?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Cheating

    Sorry that you are having difficulty. I do not quite understand the scope of the test bank and the accusation of student impropriety. From my perspective it seems that the school is rather lax in not securing "test" materials and keeping up to date with rotating assessments. From my end - sloppy on their part and exceptionally bad form to accuse students without evidence.

    That said - your school must have a Provost/Chancellor to whom one can address concerns, or at the very least a student advocate who can point to legal services for nursing students. That said - nursing ed. as well as the field itself has a unique culture and as you mentioned it is small school where everyone knows everyone. At the very least I would keep a written record of where I was on particular dates, computer-related evidence which indicates common use of the circulated rtf file. I hope someone on this forum can advise you on FERPA.


    Ben T

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Cheating

    First and foremost, your educational institution is seriously lacking the fundamental requirements of any school - an INVESTIGATIVE BODY. Usually schools will turn over issues like this to an authority figure in the school .That figure will then see if you are indeed responsible. It appears that nobody at the school did this. All that these teachers are using are circumstantial evidence.

    That is, they are using evidence that is not concrete. I am going to need more information about what you KNOW they have about what you did in the printing lab, what they THINK you did, and what you DID do.

    If this went to court right now and you filed against them, they may use this circumstantial evidence against you (whatever it is). No matter what, however, it is all circumstantial. Nothing is concrete. They didn't video record you printing it out. They don't have your ID number printing it out.

    Being that there is such little evidence to point out your fault, they cannot go around saying this. They cannot prove this.

    I personally believe that if you did take them to court for slander or lost wages, the judge may throw it out because there is, likewise, no evidence you can present to prove you did not do that.

    Overall, I can't give you advise either way cause i need more informatino on what theyh ave against you.

    I would take this to the school administration and complain.

    Prospective Law Student / Not an expert

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