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Charter school group's chief blamed for 2010 cheating scandal

By HOWARD BLUME - Los Angeles Times - Published: Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- The meeting at Crescendo Preparatory South was progressing as usual when the acting principal dropped a bombshell: She had been given copies of the upcoming standardized tests. The teachers were to study them, take notes - and make sure the kids got it.

Some of the eight instructors were troubled by what seemed to be an order to cheat. One burst into tears.

So began one of the most brazen cheating scandals in the nation. Ultimately, all of Crescendo's schools in South Los Angeles and nearby Gardena and Hawthorne were shut down, its teachers let go and 1,400 students forced to find new schools.

Only the rough outlines of the 2010 scandal were made public, but dozens of interviews with former Crescendo employees and officials - as well as a review of previously unreleased documents - portray an environment so poisoned by demands to excel on state proficiency tests that many submitted to a plan to boost the scores of schools that were already doing well.

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