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20 students accused in college-exam scandal in N.Y.

GREAT NECK, N.Y. — At least 20 current or former high school students from an affluent New York suburb of have been charged in a widening college entrance exam cheating scandal.

Thirteen students from the Great Neck area, a cluster of Long Island communities with top-ranked schools that send virtually all their graduates to college, were implicated in the latest round of charges, filed Tuesday. Seven others were arrested in September.

Prosecutors said 15 high school students hired five other people for anywhere from $500 to $3,600 each to take the SAT or ACT for them. The impostors — all college students who attended Great Neck-area public and private high schools — fooled test administrators by showing up for the exams with phony ID.

"Honest, hardworking students are taking a back seat to the cheaters," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. "This is a system begging for security enhancements."

Prosecutors actually suspect 40 students were involved in the cheating, but the two-year statute of limitation had expired for the others, Rice said.

All the defendants but three, who were awaiting arraignment, pleaded not guilty.

The scandal led New York state lawmakers to convene a hearing on test security, and a firm run by former FBI director Louis Freeh was hired by test administrators to review procedures.

The students who hired ringers registered to take the exam at different high schools from the ones they attended, so that their teachers would not realize what was going on.

Prosecutors did not say where the students accused of hiring others to take the exam may be attending college. And because of privacy reasons, they said they cannot even notify the colleges of the cheating allegations.

The scheme began to unravel after Great Neck North High School faculty members looked into rumors that students had paid someone to take the SAT for them, Rice said.

20 students accused in college-exam scandal in N.Y. 11/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 10:09pm]
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