A cheating ring has rocked the elite Stuyvesant High School in New York City, culminating in the expulsion of one of its students.
School officials caught a student, identified as Nayeem Ahsan, taking pictures of a Spanish exam last week and accused him of distributing test answers to over 50 other test-takers, the New York Daily News reports.
Stuyvesant High School is a prestigious New York City high school that accepts only the top performers on an admission test. The cheating allegations are currently under investigation by the New York City Education Department.
Ahsan is also alleged to have taken pictures of the statewide Physics and English Regents exams and delivered the answers to other students via cell phone. He was caught when a proctor, upon seeing him take pictures of the Spanish test, took the phone and discovered photos taken previously of the Physics and English exams.
Students speaking with WABC debated whether the deed could be pulled off undetected.
"Well, you have your phone under the table," one student said. "You set it up. [The teacher] looks away. You take it, put the phone down, and that's it."
"The schools' chancellor is furious about the situation," a city official told The Wall Street Journal.
The high school junior was told to leave the school permanently. His motivation for cheating is still under investigation.
"I think we have to delve in deeper," Shino Tanikawa of the Community Education Council told WABC. "Why did he do it? Did he need the money? Maybe he needed the money. Or was there something he wanted to do? Or was he just simply playing pranks?"
An online petition is circulating on Change.org asking that Stuyvesant Principal Stanley Teitel to "Reinstate Nayeem Ahsan as a student at Stuyvesant."
The petition, which gathered 251 signatures, reads:
Nayeem Ahsan is a valued member of the Stuyesant community (sic). He plays an integral role in school morale, photographing all major school events among the countless other selfless deeds he's done for the class of 2013. His absence would leave the senior class of 2013 defunct. Expulsion from his home for the last three years is an exorbitant repercussion for his mistake, Nayeem does not deserve to have his future ripped out of his hands, simply so the administration can set an example.
Cheating scandals are hardly rare at elite, pressure-cooker high schools.
Last month in Wake County, N.C., five juniors were caught cheating at one of the county's top performing high schools, NBC 17 reported. The students, described as "high achieving" by Wake County Schools spokesperson Samiha Khanna, were found with an early copy of an exam after one of the group had secured it and given it to the rest.
"Sometimes, good students make bad choices," Khanna told NBC 17.
The student who obtained the exam was given a short suspension while the other students received detention. One of the students was stripped of his membership to the National Honor Society.
In September 2011, authorities in New York uncovered a comprehensive cheating ring in which six students at Great Neck North High School paid 19 year-old Sam Eshaghoff thousands of dollars to take the SATs in their stead.
Eshaghoff charged up to $2500 per test, a high price he backed up with solid performances.
"Some of the scores," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, "were 2220, 2180, 2170."
In the wake of the scandal, the College Board and ACT Inc. decided to implement tighter security measures to combat incidents of cheating.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this piece cited an incomplete quote by Khanna by way of NBC 17. We regret the error.