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Beaumont ISD facing cheating and redistricting controversy - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Beaumont ISD facing cheating and redistricting controversy

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BEAUMONT -

There's word a group in Beaumont is contacting the Texas Education Agency about allegations of cheating on standardized tests.

The cheating scandal in the Atlanta, Georgia school system led to the downfall of several school officials, including the superintendent.  It also shed light on the possibility of cheating in districts throughout the country.

A news article in an Atlanta newspaper reported that the Beaumont Independent School District was one of dozens of districts in the U.S. that showed differences in test scores that raised suspicion.

The online watch group, BISD Board Watch, is calling for an investigation and for witnesses into allegations of cheating at BISD.

At a meeting about redistricting maps, two Beaumont ISD graduates went off message, and brought the board back into the classroom.

Both Erika Mendoza and Samantha Rodriguez told board members how a BISD education did not prepare them for college.

High school sophomore Jaqueline Herrera told 12News she has classmates who are not learning, and resorting to cheating.

District officials would neither confirm nor deny an investigation, but board member Mike Neil said, "I don't think it will be a hard thing to prove, once they start coming forward, because what we need is direct eyewitnesses."

Board president Woodrow Reece expressed doubts about the allegations and issued a challenge.

He said, "It's come up before, and I say prove your case."

Meanwhile BISD board members are a third of the way through the alphabet when it comes to redistricting maps.

They are now on Map I.

Last month, the board unanimously agreed to submit a map to the U.S. Department of Justice.

It has to be approved before an election can be held.

But Monday afternoon, at a public hearing at Central High School, two more maps were produced for consideration.

The redistricting attorney told the board he doubts the DOJ will approve the submitted map, Map B, saying it doesn't fully represent Beaumont's racial makeup.

Neil complained that trustees were  shown the latest map just minutes before the meeting, and when he asked why so late, the answer given by attorney, Chad Dunn, stunned the audience.

Dunn said, "We learned today that board president, Mr. Woodrow Reece, is considering moving his residence and he asked to incorporate some property into his district."

Reece said he was just bringing up a concern, but did not ask the attorney to change the map.

The board meets Thursday to approve a backup map to Map B.

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