Oak Park principal, staff member likely tampered with tests at Mann School

District 97 addresses controversy with parents at meeting


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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

The principal and one staff member at Mann School are the likely individuals who tampered with state-mandated standardized tests that were given to students at the school last month. District 97 Supt. Albert Roberts addressed the controversy to a packed auditorium of parents in a public meeting held at the school on April 4.

Principal Nimisha Kumar submitted her resignation on March 22, but is still serving at Mann, 921 N. Kenilworth, until June 30. Roberts did not mention any names during the meeting but confirmed that the tests were mishandled by two staff members at the school. He noted that Kumar resigned after the violations were found and that one other staff member is facing disciplinary consequences.

"There's going to be disciplinary action on one individual and we have a resignation from another individual," Roberts said at last Wednesday's meeting. He did not mention Kumar by name. Roberts has also said that it was Kumar's decision to resign.

"There will be some additional discipline for the one individual who remains employed," he said. "That's probably as far as I can go about the specifics of the investigation."

Roberts said that he and other district staff members interviewed two Mann employees for about two hours after receiving a tip relayed by the president of the Oak Park Teacher's Association that something improper was being done with the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) after they were turned in. Roberts told Wednesday Journal two weeks ago that the tip came from an anonymous teacher at the school.

As for the irregularities that took place, Roberts told the Mann parents they involved about 25 separate tests, and went beyond erasing stray marks on the answer sheets.

"The two hours of interviews with these folks sealed the deal," he said. "It was about what was stated to me and to others in the interviewing. Our questions led us to believe that the real transgressions occurred outside the classroom. The real serious issues was transcribing information from answer books to the answer key, filling in circles on the answer key that were not filled during the time period in the classroom. These were the most serious of the offenses."

The Illinois State Board of Education is now conducting an investigation of the matter after D97 reported the violations to the state. Roberts disagreed with some parents who suggested that the district overreacted to the situation.

"Would I take the action I've taken for no good reason, for a stray mark on an exam?" Roberts asked. "I don't think it is an overreaction when you hear from the state board of education that people might lose their certification over this."

The irregularities were confined to just two people, Roberts explained, adding that there would be no large-scale shakeup at Mann as some have feared. He said he has no plans to transfer anyone out of the building, adding: "We're trying to keep this faculty intact. This is a great school with a great teaching staff."

As for the actions of the two individuals involved, Roberts doesn't believe they were motivated by evil intent. "I don't think it was malice, but I think it was very poor judgment. I'm comfortable that the serious infractions were limited."

Roberts said that he will meet with the Mann faculty next week.

Some parents expressed concern about the morale among the faculty in the wake of the incident, and the publicity it has generated. Roberts told the crowd that 73 people have already applied for the principal position at Mann and that he hoped to hire someone next month. But Roberts did not rule out the possibility of hiring an interim principal next year if he and the school board, along with Mann stakeholders, cannot find a good fit in the next two months.

"I want to do it right; I don't want to do it fast, but who's to say we can't do it fast and right," Roberts said.

Some parents said that the district should notify parents if their child's ISAT results were tampered with. Roberts responded, "We hadn't thought about that, but we'll give it some consideration."

Parents asked many questions at the meeting, which lasted a little over 90 minutes and was attended by about 150 people. Roberts said he didn't want the incident to tar Mann's excellent reputation.

"Our kids are not cheaters, our teachers are not cheaters. We need to correct something, though," Roberts said, adding that every D97 school next year will receive more training in proper test handling.

Still, many parents were upset about losing Kumar as principal.

"I came in here thinking they threw the baby out with the bath water," said Bruce Moncrieff after the meeting. "I'm walking out with the same opinion."

Moncrieff was also not happy that a Mann employee apparently tipped off the union president about the alleged violations, saying: "I am a little concerned that we do have a whistleblower here."

Bill Gale said his son, a Mann third-grader, cried when he read in the Wednesday Journal that Kumar was resigning. Gale thought the meeting was difficult, but necessary.

"I thought it was fair," he said. "I thought it was painful. It's just a very painful situation."

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Reader Comments

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Posted: April 13th, 2012 3:58 PM

@WKD, hey I did the same thing as you, sad thing is that I have heard the sames thing DKW, but i heard it from the parents of one of those kids.

WKD from OP  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 12:16 PM

Came to my attention that I can create any anecdote I please to back my point, however bogus. I heard Irving teachers sold heroin to students. See what I did there?

LB from OP  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 11:09 AM

The virulent group of 5th grade parents should consider the consequences of their actions. Their lack of integrity and cowardice is breeding ill will in the community. Nothing will please these "un-pleasables".

DKW from Oak Park  

Posted: April 12th, 2012 1:11 PM

Hmmm...came to my attention that the Principal in question wouldn't allow special ed/special needs students at Mann because of the their adverse effect on test scores. This is not an educator.

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 11th, 2012 2:03 PM

Forget the Valium and the Bourbon. I want you're having. But make mine a double!


Posted: April 11th, 2012 1:40 PM

@pagingdocfreud, ur a smart one, lol! What? Tail pipe? phone book? bourbon chaser? what's all that? only thing I understood was google, brother. Gold? Where? Winning! Doesn't feel so good huh? Can't we all get along people? there r wars, disasters,people starving. let's focus on that, For the record, I'm not a parent, scared of being one yes, u parents r brutal. Thank you very much folks (taking a bow, crowd goes wild, clapping) Encore anyone? No? ok, i'll drink to that. hasta never, i hope

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 11th, 2012 8:39 AM

Paranoia runs deep north, south, east and west. Get a phone book, pardon me, Google a doctor and get some medication. Excuse me now, but I need my morning dose of a Valium with a Bourbon chaser and a splash on the side.


Posted: April 11th, 2012 8:20 AM

I am aware of two Mann parents with those initials and neither of them have made these ridiculous posts. In fact, I suspect that they were made by someone posing as a Mann parent who is really just trying to get all of the anti-Mann people out there worked up. In fact, I suspect that most of these comments are people just trying to see what reaction they can get from others. I suggest finding another hobby that is more productive.

Paging Dr. Freud  

Posted: April 11th, 2012 7:59 AM

LOL!! I see that the Mann school id has come out to comment, and its name is KD. Let me summarize KD's posts: "Nyah, nyah, nyah! You're all a bunch of haters who are jealous of our questionable moral values! Nyah!"

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 11th, 2012 7:40 AM

North Berwyn is the no man's land between Roosevelt Road and the Eisenhower. Believe me, my part of OAK PARK has seen it's share or burglaries, garage break-ins, murder and other assorted crimes. We don't get our streets paved in gold. We've tolerated being second class citizens in Oak Park for a long time. So take your pompous attitude and large tax bill and shove it up your tail pipe.


Posted: April 11th, 2012 7:19 AM

Don't drink and post.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 11:32 PM

@ Observer: why don't you teach that class? I'm assuming your ethics & morals are all in check. Do you have better ideas for the OP gov't to stop sucking the tax $$ out of us? I don't think so, other wise you would be town Pres. or something better for that matter & not put your two cents on here :) meh


Posted: April 10th, 2012 11:16 PM

Did we forget about the 2011 "best party ever" thrown by a student living on Lombard in OP whose parents consented?? Of course it's all Mann kid's & their parents fault. I'm sure they came up with the party master plan. With all that money those Mann parents & their kids have, they definitely threw $$$ at that party & partied with them too. You people are dumbwads, get over yourselves ;)I wish I could come up with a pill for the bent out of shape bitter OPers. I'd make lots of $$$ :):):):)


Posted: April 10th, 2012 11:14 PM

Well, I guess D97 did not ask for enough money in their last referendum. They raise our property taxes and they still cheat. It seems that D97 needs a class in ethics and morals. Oh, but that will require another referendum to raise our property taxes even more.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 10:55 PM

To summarize all the dumb comments that the ignorant community of OPers have contributed, I think I get it now: lots of $$$$= desire to live in Mann district=nanny=spoiled kids=ridiculously demanding parents who don't walk or drive their children to school=Mann teachers to be under extreme pressure=Mann parents & kids faults=test score drama=bitter OP haters to come out in herds & rejoice in parents & kids sadness= I hope to get the last laugh when you're involved in similar or worse drama


Posted: April 10th, 2012 10:43 PM

con't, just remember not to let your children inherit that pessimistic attitude of yours, when they're playing against Mann. They may turn out to be "best friends" in OPRF HS. As far as I know, soccer, baseball, basketball, football teams etc. in OP are comprised of kids from different schools uniting & being a team. What planet are you living in? DUH!


Posted: April 10th, 2012 10:37 PM

@My eyes are bleeding from the ER: I hope they bleed out. You deserve worse for making idiotic comments. @ Steve from N. Berwyn: is news that slow in Berwyn??? Last I heard Berwyn has had a # of break-ins & there have been some administration issues in the H.S. Contact Berwyn C.A.R.E.S. you may be busy enough if you join their community watch :) @not surprised it's Mann...I didn't know Mann tries to win @at all costs. You know how ridiculous it sounds?? You're a sore loser, accept it.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 6:36 PM

I don't think she can be an effective leader for the remainder of the school year after this fiasco. I imagine her hiding in her office peeking through the blinds as she did on her first day as principal with students arriving so many years ago..


Posted: April 10th, 2012 5:38 PM

She is still employed until June, so she could be terminated for cause before then. Further, if a termination could be "for cause" and the person resigns before the involuntary termination occurs, you can still categorize the termination as "for cause" for purpoess of benefits such as severance and retirement.

@OPRFDad from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 5:14 PM

Regarding your first comment, it is not a "termination with cause" because she resigned.

@Not surprised  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 5:04 PM

You know, if it had been any other school in the district, I am sure there would be folks who "wouldn't be surprised it was [whatever] school." I am surprised it was Mann, because they already have the highest scores in the district. I am sad that it happened to anyone in our district. I feel for the teachers, parents, and students.

@ it wasn't   

Posted: April 10th, 2012 5:01 PM

It's only cheating if you do it well/it improves the scores? That's news by me.

@Former Mann Parent  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 4:29 PM

You are totally right.

@it wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 4:28 PM

The point is that the things done to the tests were done to make sure those tests counted so in essence, they would have improved Mann's test scores. The things done were to make sure the tests were counted. You are totally missing the point. I hope you are not teaching your children your reasoning because there will be problems with thinking it's okay to stretch the rules.

Not surprised it's Mann  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:50 PM

ok Steve. don't quit your day job. not funny at all. "late to the party" meaning I have been reading the comments, but have yet to comment myself. not "late" because I am a southsider. could be taken pretty offensively, there, Steve.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:45 PM

The actions that were taken did NOT improve any of the scores.

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:33 PM

Since we are dealing with perceptions vs reality... it's a joke.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:33 PM

Since labeling something accurately isn't a priority for some, I suppose they won't mind when their precocious children are labeled as challenged and put in classes accordingly. Good to know. We can save a few bucks by eliminating the program for high achievers.

Not surprised it's Mann from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:31 PM

@Steve, what a weird thing to say. Why would you think I am an Irving parent?

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 3:16 PM

At "Not surprised it's Mann": you're late to the party? You must be an Irving parent.

Not surprised it's Mann from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 2:54 PM

Late to the party, but I have watched my kids play sports (tball, bball, soccer)against Mann for 7 years now, and it's always the same story. Win at all costs (forget the rules!). The parent coaches drive a lot of this too, and I have seen umps/refs bench many for their behavior. I cringe when I see we are playing Mann, and I always expect some drama. I feel sorry for how the kids are being "taught". Not a sore loser, we have beat Mann on many occasions. Just not shocked at all this is at Mann.

Former Mann Parent  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 2:19 PM

I've administered the ISATs, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that anyone who administers the exam is required to read the test protocols (at a minimum; most districts have explicit trainings.) Ms Kumar and her unknown assistant knew they were violating test protocols to improve the scores. If you don't like the word "cheating", you can call it "knowingly violating the rules to improve your score". No...wait...that's still cheating.

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 2:05 PM

If the student is incapable of printing his/her name legibly on the test form and the teacher did it for them, if it not cheating, it is certainly morally and ethically wrong. By the way, would it be cheating if the teacher read all the questions aloud?

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 1:22 PM

By that description, if the teachers would have put the students name on the form it would have been cheating. Not in my book.

It was cheating...  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 1:05 PM

...and fraud, and everyone knows it, which is why the principle "resigned" and why the staff involved is being disciplined. The only reason they're saying no "malice" was involved was because the intent was to be helpful to Mann students (and Mann's test rankings), and not to harm anyone else. Guess what. Helpful cheating is still cheating.

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 11:49 AM

Try doing that when you take your driver's license exam. Or your CPA certification. Or your medical boards. Rules are rules. The teachers may have innocently "bent" the rules, not deliberately cheating as far as we know, but it is still wrong. If I bent the rules like that in 3rd Grade, Sr. Mary Elizabeth would have whacked me with the ruler and made me kneel on the pointer until lunch.

@It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 10:06 AM

Well said. You are correct.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:22 AM

Erasing stray marks and transferring answers is much ado about nothing. The dist made a heck of a lot more than what should have been required. This has all been overplayed.

My eyes are bleeding from the emergency room  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:37 AM

They cheated. They didn't cheat. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Yes you did. They have weapons of mass destruction. They did not. Shut up already.

Weapons of Mass Destruction  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:18 AM

Can the conversation move beyond (cheat/no cheat)? The actions were inappropriate. Is the policy for all cheating firing? You all have given Roberts license to be Judge, Jury and Executioner. If a child cheats do we expel regardless of the circumstances?

@It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 6:30 AM

If the ISAT rules and instructions do not allow for stray lines to be erased or for an adult to transfer over a student's answers and someone does that, how is it anything but cheating? If a student is given extra time to finish their answers when there isn't a plan for them to do so, how is that not cheating? It's pretty clear. The reasons why are pretty clear too. If the answers aren't transferred or the stray marks aren't removed, those tests might not be counted. All of this is cheating


Posted: April 10th, 2012 6:11 AM

What do you call it, then?

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:26 PM

If teachers erased stray marks after the test were turned in and transferred answers I dont look at that as cheating. Sorry

Weapons of Mass Destruction from OP  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 6:44 PM

Details (of the process) are needed to justify forcing a principal to resign. Does the action justify a career threatening punishment? Why does Roberts alone get to decide? Is termination the only recourse for teacher transgressions? E.g. Should yelling "shut-up" at a kindergarten class get you fired? If so, Roberts better get on that too.

@It wasn't cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 6:28 PM

I am guessing you are a bot.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 5:00 PM

It is cheating -- whether it's transferring answers (correct answers or not doesn't matter) or giving extra time or checking for marks that could throw off answers. All of those things are cheating. I cannot understand how anyone can say otherwise. If an hour is given for a test and a student is given time outside of that hour time frame to finish or check their work, that's wrong. And to compare to being in line to vote, that is not even close to being a similar situation.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 4:46 PM

They did not cheat.

@it wasn't  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 4:03 PM

Did you read the article? They gave extra time.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 3:05 PM

Rechecking answers to correct mistakes is not what happened here. They put the already made answers in the correct location.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:41 PM

"Principals in D97 are on one year contracts." Is this a new thing? The Julian Principal gave notice several years ago that she was retiring; I would think if she had a one-year contract that wouldn't work.

@OPRFDad & WMD  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:32 PM

Principals in D97 are on one year contracts with a token bonus potential given at the sole discretion of the Supt. By law student growth must be 25% of Principals evaluation for the first time in 2012-13, but it will not be tied to compensation, just the decision to retain. So Clearly Kumar had no monetary motive whatsoever. As to pensions, the state TRS plan does not have any provision for penalizing participants based upon the reason for their termination from service.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:23 PM

Were the teachers who allowed extra time for some students to transpose answers from the booklet to the answer sheet allowing the kids to enter incorrect answers?

Roberts' Rules  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:09 PM

Robert's has to go. He is an apologist for the guilty, while being guilty of cheating tax payers out of $500,000.00 of referendum money to go to a software program that is worthless and preparing to spend millions to build himself a new castle of an admin building.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:50 PM

Following up on my earlier point, has anyone checked whether any element of Kumar's compensation is performance-based - i.e., related to scores on ISAT tests? If so, I think D97 would have to conduct a more detailed investigation to assure that (1) this didn't occur in years past, and (2) that it recoups any amounts paid based on any ISAT-related data (since we now know that has been tampered with).

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:49 PM

If giving extra time to some students to enter their answers on to the test sheet is not cheating, then why werent all students allowed extra time to recheck their answers for possible mistakes? It is cheating. Roberts never said why he feels there was no malice. Did he askthe Question: "Why did you as a teacher conduct your self in this fashion?"

@it wasn't  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:38 PM

You might want to take that up with the ISAT people then.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:04 PM

Giving children an opportunity is not cheating. Sorry. If Bobby or Jane answered the question they should have the right to have their answer recorded. Should people be able to vote who are standing in line after 6pm?

@it wasn't cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:49 AM

The article cited said kids were given extra time. That isn't the same as furnishing answers, but it gives those children an opportunity others didn't have. That is cheating. @Blake, I don't know whether this qualifies as hatred and judgment to you, but I am surprised at how many people here don't think that unequal treatment on a STANDARDIZED test is fair.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:32 AM

The hatred and judgement here makes me embarrassed to be an Oak Parker -- seriously people! I had no idea adults could be so childish. I commend the whistle blower.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:31 AM

I didnt hear any teachers were providing answers the students hadnt already provided.

@ it wasn't  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:24 AM

more info here: http://riverforest.suntimes.com/11494234-417/oak-park-principal-resigns-after-testing-irregularities-found.html From the article: The violations included: %u2022 staff members reviewing test booklets and answer documents for stray marks and missing answers after they had been turned in by students; %u2022 staff members erasing stray marks on the test booklets and answer documents; %u2022 students being given extra time to transcribe answers from the test booklets to the answ

@ it wasn't   

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:22 AM

Are you a speeding isn't speeding unless you get caught person? And, even if you get caught speeding, does the speeding not count if you have a REALLY good reason, like a sale at Michaels?

@ it wasn't  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:19 AM

Did you miss the part about the teachers giving extra time for kids (who didn't have accommodations) whose pages were stuck together? Not sure if it was in this article.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:15 AM

Untrue. Questions were answered and the same answers may have been transferred, but not changed.

@ it wasn't cheating ...  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:04 AM

Actually, the administrators were providing answers that previously weren't there - they just excluded the students from that process and did it themselves. I'm glad we can now agree that this was cheating.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:00 AM

No one said the students cheated. The teachers and administrators did.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:53 AM

Cheating would have been if the admins/teachers would have provided the students with or filled in the proper answer when one was not there. That is cheating.

@ it wasn't cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:45 AM

It was cheating. Read the article before you post - it will help you to get the facts right.

It wasnt cheating  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:39 AM

Erasing stray marks off of a test is NOT cheating. How can Mann's high test scores be in jeopardy? A stray mark doesnt take away any points on the test.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:06 AM

So this seems like a "for cause" termination event - cheating that is, even if you don't want to call it such. Anyway, does anyone know what Kumar's compensation package is? Is she in the defined benefit plan? Would a for cause termination event deprive her of her pension (think George Ryan)? If so, I'd like to better understand the District's position on why it isn't terminating her for cause. Taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing cheaters' retirement - use that money for the kids.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 8:42 AM

What details are you looking for, WMD? I am not a huge fan of the supt, but it seems that the only information he is leaving out is the names of the teachers/whistle-blower?

Weapons of Mass Destruction from OP  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 8:06 AM

We deserve the details of the transgression. If intimidating the principal to step down was justified, there's no reason to hide the details from the community. As the comments on this blog demonstrate, the community is left guessing.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 7:16 AM

But it goes beyond "some people messing up" on test procedure. Anyone who has proctored a test knows the rules are very very clear on what is and isn't allowed. These are experienced teachers/administrators. I doubt this was an innocent mistake. I agree that the kids aren't the ones who did the cheating, but someone did. I don't understand why Mann would do that, since their scores are already high; maybe going up against the North Shore?

read between the lines  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 1:48 PM

No,I don't know exactly what happened, but I am not jumping to conclusions about an entire school community. And then judging them and insulting them. I'm not a Mann parent either. I am just an OPer who can see that this is an unfortunate situation, but the people making comments are putting the blame on the wrong people.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 10:15 AM

So you know EXACTLY what happened? Tests of 25 students were tampered with and you are okay with that? Good to know how some at Mann feel about this situation. I think the Mann parents should be ticked but evidently it's okay.

Dist 97 Referendum  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 8:52 AM

Amen to that!!! Now on with your regular programming.

read between the lines  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 8:25 AM

Mann kids did not cheat on this test. Same goes for the teachers. The parents too. A couple of people messed up the post test procedure. Al Roberts has said that there was "no malice or evil intent" ie: no intention to cheat. Rules were broken, but it has more to do with testing procedure than an attempt by anyone at Mann to raise the test scores. Negligence, probably. The principal is gone for that. Stop judging when you don't know what happened.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 9:57 PM

Ugh. That is just not true. "Everybody" does not cheat, and it is usually only people who are cheaters themselves who think so.

@@@OP Res  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 8:02 PM

There's nothing wrong with Mann kids. This sort of thing happens everywhere. They just got told on. All the holier than thou people carrying on about "cheating" don't understand the test.


Posted: April 7th, 2012 5:30 PM

If Kumar didn't understand how to administer the ISAT's after this many years, she is incompetent. I recall her placing a high value on those scores and am not at all surprised at the outcome. As some families support her, many others do not. She's been known to walk past in the hall some parents and not acknowledge them in the slightest. Not the makings of a leader and bizarre to boot! I wonder if constance collins will hire her wherever she went off to.

Dist 97 Referendum  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 2:55 PM

This kind of thing happens everywhere. Wake up

Weapons of Mass Destruction  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 2:13 PM

The process is in question. 1. There are no legal requirements preventing the facts being shared. 2. Roberts making this type of decision, excluding the community in the process, should give everyone a moment of pause. Irving, Mann, Beye, Lincoln, Holmes, Whittier faculty may feel less secure knowing Roberts is their judge, jury and executioner.

john from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 1:10 PM

I have a solution, lets raise taxes again to pay for all the bright young minds we are educating. Sky high taxes and test scores so low they need to be changed. This is not a new trend either, OPRF was ranked high in the state many moons ago and much lower taxes ago.

@@OP Res  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 1:05 PM

Is there something particular about Mann young kids that makes the testing process different for them from the thousands of other young kids that take the same test? I would think that if they have problems, other kids at other schools have problems. If the Mann administration has always "fixed" this problem, then it seems their test scores would be suspect.


Posted: April 7th, 2012 12:45 PM

"The irregularities ... involved 25 separate tests." this isn't one or two kids who screwed up entries on their scantrons. I don't see why it is so difficult to call this what it is - cheating - and move on. I hope every parent at the school has explained to their kids that Kumar broke the rules, it was her job to follow the rules and the school let her go. Any special pleading in this case insults the children.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 11:00 AM

Kumar and a couple others got caught cheating. It's that simple. Kumar has resigned which is good, but frankly she should not be allowed to stay through June. I'm sure the teacher's union will protect the other two. I hope the state revokes all of their credentials.

Weapons of Mass Destruction from OP  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 10:16 AM

Roberts needs to provide the community detailed facts. Does the punishment fit the transgression? Can we handle the truth? Was it an excuse to advance an ulterior agenda? Was it to appease a small malicious vocal group of Mann parents?

@OP resident  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 10:15 AM

I don't know the details of this situation, but I do know that sometimes kids, especially young kids, don't quite get the process of answering questions on the answer sheet instead of in the book where the questions are. The proctors are allowed to remind them, but it is hard for teachers to see accurate answers that didn't make it onto the answer sheet, especially when so much is at stake.


Posted: April 7th, 2012 6:36 AM

CHEATING ... Let's all say it and let the healing begin. " The real serious issues was transcribing information from answer books to the answer key, filling in circles on the answer key that were not filled during the time period in the classroom. " A clearer case of cheating there never was.

OP resident  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:15 PM

I don't get it. Why were they transcribing answers anyway? Were these the tests of kids with disabilities who were taking the test with accommodations?

jk from op  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:12 PM

"may only mean manipulating something"??!


Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:18 PM

"The irregularities ... Went beyond erasing stray marks on answer sheets ..." The WJ was being generous in using the term tampering. They could have said "falsifying" or "forging" or "fraud" or "unethical" or "cheating", but they used a fairly innocuous word. Again, we're back to denying truth because it makes people feel bad.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:26 PM

Tell us, what is the positive spin of tampering?


Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:07 PM

Wow! What a poor, misleading headline to use the word "tamper." There is no report from ISBE yet and Dr. Roberts said there was no malicious intent. Tampering may only mean manipulating something, but the general public will always view tampering in a negative, criminal sense. Once again the WJ does a fine job of writing a headline for negative impact.

Sees both Sides  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:02 PM

I'm amazed at the venom toward Mr. Moncrief's comments about the whistleblower. I would hope he meant that he was concerned the staff member didn't talk to someone at Mann first rather than running to the OPTA. It doesn't sound like this happened. Whistleblowers do have a place, but I would hope they would try to stop things internally first. If he/she knew and did nothing to question or prevent it, that's not good either. It's too easy to just act good later.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:55 PM

With the advent of student performance counting for principal and teacher evaluation points, this is just the beginning of the type of problems we may see. It probably is considered "cheating" to do anything with the booklets/answer sheets after the timed period. However, in the bigger picture ahead of us, this will amount to nothing. When jobs are on the line depending on all students to make certain test progress, we'll be lucky to find anyone who wants to be a teacher in the next few years.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:51 PM

Probably the most unfortunate part of this episode is that the people doing the proctoring of the tests didn't keep a closer eye on students while testing. By walking around and scanning answer sheets during testing, a proctor would have seen a non-transcribed answer, stray marks, or sticking pages. They can direct students to take care of such things during the prescribed testing period, just not afterwards. This isn't giving answers... it is making sure the students are on target.

Not sorry anymore  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:05 PM

...and with N vs S's comments, it becomes obvious why so many other OP parents are laughing at Mann right now. "Slackers who wear the baggy pants" huh? Gee, I wonder what that's a euphemism for. I also love the defense that the rest of us are just jealous. In all honesty, I will admit to sometimes being envious of other people's material possessions and money, but I have never, and will never, be jealous of who these people are.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 5:22 PM

N vs S, I guess you didn't get the joke. Oh well.

mike from op  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 4:49 PM

My daughter went to Mann for 2 years and Lincoln for 3 years and I have to say I Lincoln was a much better experience. At Mann it was all about what you have, and how much of it. At Lincoln it seemed moer laid back and accepting. Most of the Mann parents seemed to hold the teachers in contempt for being teachers instead of in a higher paying job, while at the same time demanding they be super teachers of their little genius. At Lincoln there was a atmosphere of cooperation missing at Mann.

@N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:03 PM

So Mann has the best test scores too -- cheating or not, I guess.

N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:48 PM

Per Capita

N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:48 PM

More kids in Mann District go to college than any other district in Oak Park. Parties or not.

@N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:35 PM

Yes, and when those non- "slackers who wear the baggy pants" get to the high school, they throw THE BEST PARTIES ever. And because their parents are "successful" there aren't consequences to their actions. Money buys many things, including keeping their kids out of disciplinary trouble at the high school and out of the police blotters for their drugs and drinking parties. Way to go, Mann!

N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:32 PM

Success breeds success!

N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:31 PM

Yes that being one of many. Mann students tend to excel in many extracurricular activities as well. Athletics and other non school activities for example. You dont see alot of the slackers who wear the baggy pants and dont keep up their appearances at Mann. People tend to care more about whats important in life at Mann. The kids are top notch.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:20 PM

"I will admit I think Mann is the best school in Dist 97. " Why? because of their test scores?

N vs S  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:05 PM

Who's spending $3Million on a new playground? Talk about snobs. I will admit I think Mann is the best school in Dist 97. One more great thing about living in the Mann School District is the lowest crime levels in Oak Park.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:59 PM

I don't hate or envy the Mann parents or students. My kids don't go to that school, and I am happy with my kids' school. I do roll my eyes when I see real estate listings crowing about houses being in the "prestigious Mann district," as if the rest of the D97 schools are somehow Terrible Places to Be Avoided. Anyway, I think this is very sad for the students, the staff, and the parents at the school. This has to be a difficult time and I hope things get back to normal soon.

@notmannparent from oak park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:54 PM

so under your new personal responsibility mandate all pto's must now share their fundraising dollars equally via your pool?. or can we just pay the fine instead and opt out? #repeal


Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:39 PM

@Kindri don't worry, the Mann haters will transfer their jealous feelings to the River Forest crowd once at OPRF.

Kindri from River Forest   

Posted: April 6th, 2012 12:53 PM

These hateful, frequently jealous comments about families in Mann's district -- families who have been harmed by the principal and staff members' dishonesty - make me happy that I do not live in Oak Park.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 12:31 PM

I must admit that, like South Sider, I have experienced a little schadenfreude when reading about Mann's testing fraud. It is hard not to, when we've all bumped up against some rather vocal Mann parents whose children were born on third and are then told they hit triples. On the other hand, no one thinks that all, or even most, Mann parents are like this, and I do feel badly for the Mann students. So, I'm sorry to those folks who feel unfairly targeted by the rest of OP.

Not a Mann Parent either  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 12:11 PM

@not Mann parent I've got a better idea - Oak Park homeowners can lead a movement to pool all the tax bills, and then divide the amounts due equally among the homeowners. Think it will happen?


Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:48 AM

Well, you are lucky to only have met the Mann parents who feel as your friends do. Trust me, there are plenty who don't feel that way. The irony is that most of the rest of OP feels that only in Mann's mind are they the best. Each school definitely brings its own positive components. No one is delighting in this scenario. Most of us feel really badly for Ms. Kumar. She was in a no-win situation.

and one more  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:37 AM

which is worse, to continually shame one's critics, or to look critically at one's own shame-- a performance-obsessed culture that put enormous pressure on a principal , who risked (and will likely lose) her whole career to deliver to expectations. of course no mann parents are to blame for any of this.

Sarah from OP  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:32 AM

@Sarah- I do not have kids that go to Mann. But I know people who do and they are very good people. They are hurt by how this community is attacking them. My Mann friends do not think that they, their kids,or their school is better than any other in OP. Sorry if you feel less and have to attack other people who live in your community. My point was to look within and stop enjoying something that is bad for someone else. NOW THAT is a teaching opportunity for the so called adults here!Shame on you

more questions  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:29 AM

Which is worse - to be a cheater who's caught, or a cheater that gets away with it? To live by the test scores, or die by the test scores? To defend cheating at your school, or ruefully mock the fallen mighty?

not Mann parent  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:15 AM

I've got an idea - the Mann PTO can demostrate how they are not snobbish or elitist by leading a movement to pool all the fund raising from all the PTOs, and then divide the income equally among the D97 schools. Think it will happen?


Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:47 AM

Maybe you should have read all the other posts from the other articles. There was a lot of implication that some Mann parents were delighted that Ms. Kumar is leaving. It appears that abuse of parental power was in full effect at Mann and Ms. Kumar's had a group of teachers AND parents against her. And again, many of us in OP are sick of hearing how great Mann is. It is no better or worse than the other schools. Also remember living there is a choice that many choose not to take.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:36 AM

Which is worse - to be a vulture or a snob?

Sarah from OP  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:35 AM

Mann parents do not "pride themselves in snobbery and elitism." Ridiculous. Seems the people with the problem are those attacking while they are down. The Mann parents didn't do anything for goodness sake! Or the kids. It looks like a teacher and the principal did something wrong and that is that. The principal resigned and the other will have disciplinary action. I read there was "no malice". Leave them alone and MOVE ON! Shame on those mean people hurting them when they are in a bad place!

Ruth from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:03 AM

If these tests are supposed to measure what children are learning, I'm not sure how moving answers from the booklet to an answer sheet is "cheating" deserving of such venom. Testing and testing policies are causing problems all over the country because they have nothing to do with education and learning. Instead of arguing about Mann parents and teachers, we should be asking if these policies bring out the best in people or the worst.....

Not a Mann parent  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:43 AM

I'm with Brian - if there wasn't any cheating there wouldn't be anything to report.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:41 AM

A little disturbing that Moncrief actually vocalized those thoughts. Moreso that people agree with him. Maybe the whistleblower had an agenda, but cheating is cheating.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:37 AM

To Parent: "This is clearly a staff issue of a disgruntled employee" It also true w/o any doubt that cheating has taken place. That is more than a disgruntled employee or a staff issue.

OP Resident not in Mann district  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:33 AM

Look, no one is faulting any parents for this problem at Mann. But as many have said, Mann prides itself on its snobbery & elitism. Go to Julian and talk to parents. The Mann parents always have a way of commenting that their school is better. I've heard it myself several times. But trust me, there are many who could afford to live in the Mann boundaries and choose not to. Many in Beye and Holmes could for example but also all the other schools (we aren't all poor here on the "south side").

Veronica from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:28 AM

It is very dissappointing that the principal of Mann would be involved or even know that cheating on the ISAT was going on. Not just one person but with three individuals involved they all had time to think about what they were doing and one of them should have had the guts and the integrity to stand up and say this is wrong. This is serious and actions should be taken immediately to investigate!


Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:24 AM

Yes, of course my comment was absurd. It is a distillation of the venomous comments directed towards parents in the Mann district in the past. Southsider and his ilk claim to have spoken to many Mann parents, but I think that is just a BS cover for his rage. I could say that I talk to South side OPers, and make some vile attacks, but it would be a lie. It could have been a water main break, or pot arrest and they would use it as an excuse to attack the caricature of NW OP they propagate.

Nora Walsh  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:49 PM

As an Oak Park parent and parent at Mann School, I support the right of staff members at our school or any school in our District to come forward with good faith concerns of impropriety or wrongdoing. Our children are better served when such individuals provide an example of speaking out when they believe something is wrong.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:32 PM

Bill Clinton, those were the day's. Do you recall how the economy was fantastic, built up a surplus of money and then you went on to have an affair and people thought it was so wrong. Then came Bush, no affair reported, billions in debt, invaded Iraq, changed the Constitution, to better fit what he needed done. Mr. Clinton, people can be complete idiots.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:58 PM

not everything is black and white. reserve your judgement until you know what happened, which you probably never will.

Bill Clinton  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:26 PM

I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinski.......

op parent  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:11 PM

To those who refuse to accept that Kumar should take responsibilty for her actions - this is a teachable moment for your kids (and maybe you). Just because we like someone and are aware of the good things they have done doesn't mean that wonderful person hasn't made one (or more) mistakes. If you can't accept now that "good" people can do some "bad" things you are really going to have a tough time when your kids get a little older.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:00 PM

RLM, I checked out a list of whistleblowers offered on wikipedia. It's not fair nor accurate to say that most of them had an axe to grind. Many sacrificed a great deal to take a stand against wrongdoing.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 9:42 PM

Say no one said anything. What really would happen to our children? Paleeeeeassse. Johnny and Sally would not get into college or worse yet, flunk out of OPRF? Get real. Kumar is a good person who is a good principal that someone couldnt handle working for. This is clearly a staff issue of a disgruntled employee.

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 9:07 PM

I don't disagree it was probably someone with an axe to grind...most whistleblowers are...but the flip side is they told the union...I know zilch about the culture of Mann for the teachers/admin, but it could be either an axe to grind OR afraid of retribution at the school/district level. However, as a parent of two little girls who live here as well, I find it disheartening that a parent of a grade schooler faults the whistleblower afor blowing the whistle and not the person(s) who did it.

OP Parent (not Mann)  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:43 PM

The whistleblower comments are interesting. Think about why a teacher would call the OPTA instead of talking to someone within their building. Not saying they shouldn't have told, but it does bring up a possibility of a desire to rid a school of a principal not liked by teachers. @New Mann Parent, the problem is that most of OP has suffered from some very vocal Mann parents who never hesitate to remind the rest of OP how great their school and kids are.Not all Mann parents but certainly some

Seriously? from OP   

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:26 PM

"Concerned that we have a whistleblower"? Seriously? The person should be commended for bravery! The problem is with the people who don't want the bubble popped! Don't get me started on the Mann parents....it sounds like I'm right that a few too many work in the financial services industry!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:12 PM

Karla, I think you are cracking wise but ask you to read the report in today's Chicago Tirbune about the sentencing of the man convicted of sex trafficking charges. The girls he tortured and exploited were poor, victims of abuse at home, runaways, homeless, metally ill and as young as 12.

to NewMann Parent  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:11 PM

This is not real. The people who write hate here are the crazy ones. Many people read this, for amusement mostly, but know that the people who you will interact with in Oak Park (yes,even non NWOP!)are good people. These such things bring out the mean people who use the animinity to be cyber bullies! Ignore and know that your kids are at a good school that will survive this situation. All the schools in OP are good. Too bad not all of the people who post here are.

New Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:50 PM

I'm a Mann parent of a kindergartener so this is all new to us. I'm offended though of how horrible we are thought of. First of all, this is about our principal, not the parents of the students. Why would you need to be rude and judgmental to people that you don't even know? And thank goodness that at least Kumar employed good teachers that have some integrity who do what's right. It would be a lot easier to keep their mouth shut than going out on a limb.

Karla (Mann school trophy wife from OP)   

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:49 PM

Con't man , I love my title.(karla from OP) I certainly couldn't stand p to all the pressures Mann school throws at us. Oh well, we'll wake up & do it all over again on Monday. have to pinch myself sometimes :) "You know it's hard out here for a pimp, When he tryin to get this money for the rent, For the Cadillacs & gas money spent Because a whole lot of b's talkin' sh. nice melody

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:46 PM

I was going to skim this with no comment until I got to the parent who is MAD AT THE WHISTLEBLOWER??!!! Seriously? So its okay that people apparently admitted to tampering with state standardized tests but its not okay that someone TOLD? Wow; this is what we're teaching our kids....

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:45 PM

"....people might lose certication over this."; should not mean that's the end of this story. Of course, move forward but keep in mind that taxpayers were defrauded and, more importantly, the children cheated. Some type of civil action seems warranted. Kudos to the whistleblower!

Mann man, Phd  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:43 PM

Southsider, maybe if you had studied harder when you were younger, you could afford to live in the Mann district. Don't feel sorry for us. If my wife and I didn't both work, we would have a lake house in Long Beach instead of Grand Beach and we would have a minivan instead of a hybrid highlander.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:39 PM

sorry can't stay longer & chat. 3hr. nap is up. Darn! & I didn't even go to the gym or get my daily mani-pedi. My nanny forgot to wake me. Shame on her. Now it's time for me to serve up the food that she cooked for us. You see, she takes our 4 kids to school in a.m., she works her day job, she comes back to our home to cook us a wonderful , picks up all the kids from school & helps them with their homework before she leaves. What would I do without her?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:23 PM

There are times that silence (by the board) is an indicator that they respect their superintendent to make the right decision. That is refreshing. Big A for Superintendent revealing the detail of the problem as far as he good legally. Transparency works.

another teachable moment  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:41 PM

Some parents said that the district should notify parents if their child's ISAT test results were tampered with. Roberts responded, "We hadn't thought about that, but we'll give it some consideration." That statement taught me that D97 doesn't care about the individual child, just their own credibility.

Karla from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:41 PM

oh, but you do. Don't hate the player, hate the game baby! Thanks for educating us about the "Mann parent" everyday pressures, I didn't know we all felt that way. But please, don't feel bad for me. Your opinions don't make you a bully, your assumptions do. but hey, we'll get thru this. After all we're all Oak Parkers. I'm proud of every last Mann school staff member. GO MUSTANGS! Woo!Woo! :)

Teachable Moment  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:18 PM

Where do our school Board Members stand on this? The Wistleblower should be commended! Thank you for doing what is right. The WistleBlower needs our support.

South Sider  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:02 PM

Oh I don't hate. I feel sorry for parents (esp working moms) when they tell me their kids go to Mann. Many Mann parents I talk to feel overwhelmed by the competition, judginess, and pressure to provide what's "best" for their families. I was responding to the Mann parent in this article who tsk-tsked the whistleblower and all but dismissed the fact of the principal's blatant cheating. How again does that make me a bully?

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:01 PM

I don't think that anyone with two functioning brain cells to rub together is at all surprised that Mann finally got busted for gaming their test scores. What is hilariously surprising is that someone said out loud, to a reporter, that their biggest concern is that someone blew the whistle.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 5:52 PM

I'm concerned we do not have enough whistleblowers. We should all stand up when we see something wrong.

Karla from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 5:49 PM

ooooh "S. sider" pleeeaasee! Shame on you & Zer. Ignorance is bliss. Not only does misery love company, but it insists on it too. Remember, karma may not be forgiving. One thing I learned from all these "haters" if you will & the negative comments is to teach my children to stand up to bullies like you. Consider yourself privileged to be living in OP no matter what side of town your on. Both of you will clearly raise fine offspring

South sider. "Not that it matters." Right.  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 5:23 PM

It sounds like some Mann parents don't really care what happened, as long as their supposed test-score superiority (and corresponding property values) is maintained. Thank you, whistleblower, whoever you are! If us sout siders had better test scores, maybe we would know how to spell the shaddenfroidy we're feeling.

Pat Healey  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:55 PM

What a strange comment by Bruce Moncrieff! What values is he teaching his children? I applaud the teacher who must have struggled mightily knowing this information and ultimately chose integrity over cowardice by reporting it.

Teachable Moment  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:53 PM

Both should be out now! What is the lesson these two are teaching our kids? What is the lesson we, as a community, will be teaching our kids if they stay? This is a teachable moment! And these two have proved they are not capable of making decisions worthy of instructing our children. Another very disturbing comment was made by Moncrieff: "I am a little concerned that we do have a wistleblower..." What! "Concerned" we have someone who is thinking about kids 1st? Perhaps 3 need to go.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:30 PM

I don't understand why she is staying on until June. She has absolutely lost all credibility.

Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:28 PM

@ Zer, what an absurd comment! I won't even waste my breath commenting on such an idiotic comment!


Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:16 PM

Clearly, this is the fault of the two-income parents in the Mann district, and not the staff. If they walked their kids to school, and not have caregivers in the home, this would never happen.

N vs S  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:10 PM

"This is a great school with a great teaching staff."Roberts said he didn't want the incident to tar Mann's excellent reputation.

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