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Twins will be charged with test cheating

Father is fired and girls expelled after pressure from public
Nov 13,2018
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Parents demand an acknowledgement of the cheating scandal and an apology from administrators of Sookmyung Girls’ High School in front of its gates on Monday morning, when police announced the results of its probe into the cheating. The school is located in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, an area known for its fierce academic competition. [NEWS1]
Police concluded their investigation of a cheating scandal at a private high school in Seoul on Monday and are recommending the indictment of the twin girls who allegedly received exam answers from their father, a teacher at the school.

The Suseo Police Precinct officially handed the case off to prosecutors on Monday, announcing that they found that the 53-year-old suspect, surnamed Hyeon, had leaked test questions and answers to his daughters a total of five times from June 2017 to last July at Sookmyung Girls’ High School, where he is a senior faculty member.

Police also showed the evidence they collected during the probe, which included precise answers to an English language exam on the girls’ mobile phones and an empty calculus test booklet found at their home.

The most searing evidence of the cheating, however, was a set of multiple choice answers written on the margin of one of the girls’ actual calculus tests, which police believe the student marked up upon starting the test after memorizing the answers at home.

Hours after police made these announcements, Sookmyung Girls’ High School expelled the girls and fired Hyeon. A spokesman for the school said the decision was made after extensive consultations with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

Police arrested Hyeon last Wednesday on a charge of obstruction of business. Police said they had considered not indicting the girls given that they are still minors, but ultimately decided to press charges because both Hyeon and his daughters continue to vehemently deny the allegations.

The suspects continue to deny any wrongdoing, claiming the rise in the girls’ scores were due to their diligence and was not the result of cheating.

The girls were ranked 59th and 121th among around 460 students attending the school during their first semester last year. By spring, they had jumped to first place in the fields of liberal arts and sciences. But despite the fact that their scores on school tests had soared throughout this period, the girls’ scores on their mock college entrance exams - which are written by the education ministry - ranked low with respect to their peers. Police say this mismatch testifies to the fact that the girls had performed well in school exams because of the answers leaked by their father.

The expulsions came after a week of protests by parents, prompted by the girls’ requests that they be able to drop out of the school. Some parents saw that as an attempt to evade the consequences of the cheating, since the girls would be able to transfer their scores upon enrolling at another school.

Along with their expulsion, the school has decided to flunk the girls for the first semester of their second year.

“We sincerely apologize to our students, parents and alumni for causing such worry and injury as a result of this incident,” read an official statement of apology released by the school Monday afternoon. “We also would like to apologize to the people for causing such a social nuisance.”

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]