014-TTC-991 - Texas Education Agency

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#014-TTC-991
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DOCKET NO. 014-TTC-991
TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, DIVI- +
SION OF STUDENT ASSESSMENT
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V.
GLORIA CARCANO ROCHA
BEFORE THE STATE
+
COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
THE STATE OF TEXAS
DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER
Statement of the Case
Petitioner Texas Education Agency, Division of Student
Assessment requests that the Texas Teacher Certificate of
Gloria Carcano Rocha be sanctioned for violation of the
confidential testing requirements of the Texas Assessment of
Academic Skills program.
A hearing was held on December 18, 1991 before Joan
Howard Allen, the Hearing Officer appointed by the State
Commissioner of Education. Petitioner is represented by
Terry J. Johnson, Attorney at Law, Austin, Texas.
Respondent is represented by Lindsey Lee, Attorney at Law,
Houston, Texas.
On March 19, 1992, the Hearing Officer issued a
Proposal for Decision recommending that Respondent's Texas
Teacher Certificate No. XXX-XX-XXXX be suspended for a one
year period commencing on the date that the Decision of the
Commissioner becomes administratively final. Exceptions
were filed by Respondent following Respondent's request for
an extention of time; no reply was filed.
Findings of Fact
After due consideration of the evidence and matters
officially noticed, in my capacity as State Commissioner of
Education, I make the following Findings of Fact:
1.
Respondent Gloria Carcano Rocha is the holder of
Texas Teacher Certificate No. XXX-XX-XXXX. She was
employed as principal of South Fred Booth Elementary School
between October 15 and 19th, 1990, and had been principal
for six years. (T. 12 - 13).
2.
The counselor at South Fred Booth Elementary
School, Cesar Cuellar, was assigned the duties of test
administrator for the October, 1990 Texas Assessment of
Academic Skills (TAAS). (T. 13). Respondent had no
responsibility for the secured testing materials and should
not have had access to the test booklets. (T. 13 - 14).
3.
Respondent discovered that the writing prompt for
the third grade English essay portion of the October, 1990
TAAS was a picture of a pirate when she retrieved a copy of
the test to assist her in advising another principal in the
pre-marking requirements. Respondent was able to view the
prompt through the back page of the testing booklet, even
though that section of the test was sealed. (T. 18 - 20,
24, 33 - 34).
4.
Respondent returned the English language TAAS
examination to the box following her conversation with her
fellow principal. Respondent then retrieved a Spanish
language third grade TAAS test and looked in the booklet to
determine whether there was a writing prompt in the Spanish
version of the test. There was no writing prompt in the
Spanish version. (T. 23 - 24, 26, 33 - 34).
5.
Respondent communicated to Inocencia Cantu, a
third grade teacher, with 100 students nearby, that there
was no writing prompt on the third grade Spanish test. (T.
24, 26). Respondent then said that she saw the English
prompt and that it was going to be a pirate. (T. 24, 26).
6.
On Monday before the TAAS test was to be given at
approximately 1:00 p.m., Respondent entered the classroom of
Gloria Sanchez, a third grade teacher, and told her to
change the picture of the cowboy prompt that the class had
been using and that "it's a pirate; pass it on." During
this time, Ms. Sanchez was lining up her students to go to
P.E. (T. 37 - 38, 42 - 43, 60).
7.
As a result of Respondent's statement, Ms. Sanchez
and another teacher, Ms. Rodriguez, decided to go to the
library to construct a pirate prompt. (T. 39). Ms.
Garza-Rangel and Ms. Carillo assisted. (T. 46, 50, 60, 70).
8.
Upon questioning that same afternoon, Respondent
told Ms. Garza-Rangel that she had seen the English prompt
and that it was a pirate. (T. 64).
9.
Following the administration of the October, 1990
TAAS test on Tuesday, Respondent asked Ms. Garza-Rangel
whether the prompt was a pirate. When told that it was,
Respondent said, "Vas te dije," meaning "see, I told you."
(T. 66). On Wednesday, Respondent asked Ms. Garza-Rangel
where the practice pirate writing prompts were. When she
learned that the prompts were in the students' files,
Respondent informed Ms. Garza-Rangel, "We're in big
trouble." (T. 67).
Discussion
Respondent Gloria Rocha, a principal, contends that she
is the victim of a "frame-up." Unfortunately, other than
her own testimony, which is not found to be credible in
several respects, the record is devoid of evidence
supporting Respondent's theory that teachers conspired with
paraprofessional aides to first, breach the confidentiality
of the TAAS test and second, blame Respondent for the
breach.
An assessment of the demeanor and credibility of the
witnesses in this proceeding results in the finding that Ms.
Sanchez and Ms. Garza-Rangel are more credible than
Respondent. Neither apparently has a reason to attack
Respondent; the demeanor of both indicated truthfulness.
Respondent says that she knows that is it wrong to
look into a test, but that she did not look into the test
because she did not go through the test. (T. 33). This
position is a distinction without a difference and is
contradicted by Respondent's own testimony. First,
Respondent readily confesses that since she was not test
coordinator, she was not entitled to have access to the
testing materials. (T. 13). Second, Respondent confesses
that she intentionally viewed the Spanish language TAAS test
to determine whether or not a writing prompt was included.
Third, although Respondent asserts that her viewing of the
English language prompt was inadvertent, she admits that she
communicated this prompt to one person. Respondent's own
admissions demonstrate that she intentionally violated the
confidentiality of the TAAS.
Further, the evidence adduced at hearing demonstrates
that Respondent not only viewed testing materials without
authorization, but that she communicated a secure test item
to two teachers, one of whom then used the information to
create a practice prompt for students who would be taking
the test the next day. Further, it is important to note
that these disclosures occurred in the presence of students.
Given these violations, the question then involves the
appropriateness of a sanction. The Division of Student
Assessment has not made a recommendation as to the
appropriate sanction. Clearly, a reprimand is insufficient
because the conduct was intentional and the communications
were made in the presence of students. Tex. Educ. Agency,
Div. of Student Assessment v. Randolph, No. 463-TTC-891
(Comm'r Educ. 1992). A suspension for a one year period,
the maximum permitted under Tex. Educ. Code +13.046, is more
appropriate, especially when the breach of test security is
made by the instructional leader of the campus.
Petitioner's request should be granted.
Conclusions of Law
After due consideration of the record, matters
officially noticed, and the foregoing Findings of Fact, in
my capacity as State Commissioner of Education, I make the
following Conclusions of Law:
1.
The State Commissioner of Education has
jurisdiction over the instant appeal pursuant to Tex. Educ.
Code ++21.556 and 13.046.
2.
Respondent Gloria Carcano Rocha, holder of Texas
Teacher Certificate No. XXX-XX-XXXX, knowingly and
intentionally violated the confidential integrity of the
October, 1990 third grade Texas Assessment of Academic
Skills (TAAS) test by viewing the Spanish language test to
determine if a writing prompt was included and communicating
that information to a third person, a teacher.
3.
Respondent Gloria Carcano Rocha, holder of Texas
Teacher Certificate No. XXX-XX-XXXX, knowingly and
intentionally violated the confidential integrity of the
October, 1990 TAAS test by communicating the English
language writing prompt to two teachers.
4.
Such conduct constitutes satisfactory evidence
that Respondent has conducted her school or teaching
activities in violation of the laws of the state as set
forth in Tex. Educ. Code +21.556, contrary to Tex. Educ. Code
+13.046.
5.
Respondent's Texas Teacher Certificate No.
XXX-XX-XXXX should be suspended for a one year period
commencing on the date that the Decision of the Commissioner
becomes administratively final.
5.
The Division of Educational Personnel Records
should be directed to issue notices of the suspension of
Respondent's Texas Teacher Certificate to the public.
6.
Petitioner's request should be GRANTED.
O R D E R
After due consideration of the record, matters
officially noticed, and the foregoing Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law, in my capacity as State Commissioner of
Education, it is hereby
ORDERED that Respondent's Texas Teacher Certificate No.
XXX-XX-XXXX be, and is hereby, SUSPENDED for a one year
period commencing on the date that the Decision of the
Commissioner becomes administratively final.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Division of Educational
Personnel Records immediately issue notices of the
suspension of Respondent's Texas Teacher Certificate to the
public.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner's request be, and
is hereby, GRANTED.
SIGNED AND ISSUED this ______ day of ________________,
1992.
______________________________
LIONEL R. MENO
COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
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