Pr. Geo's police instructor transferred
The Prince George's County police academy instructor was transferred out of his teaching job late Friday as internal affairs investigators continue to probe his role in an alleged cheating scandal, authorities said. He is accused of providing his students with test answers and erroneously recording perfect scores for all of them on several exams in which some earned lower grades.
The instructor -- who denies wrongdoing -- was transferred to the police department's sex offender registration unit, where he will work as a detective registering sex offenders and tracking down those who fail to register, said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a department spokesman. He said the transfer is a direct consequence of the instructor's role in an alleged cheating scandal in the academy class that graduated in July 2009.
Police Chief Roberto Hylton has said the instructor erroneously recorded all the students as receiving perfect scores on several tests because he was too lazy to write down their actual grades. Records show at least 11 tests measuring several basic policing skills, including arrest procedures and how to testify in court, all the cadets in the class were recorded as scoring 100 percent. In at least one case, Hylton said, the instructor also "basically provided some answers prior to the administration of the test."
Hylton "made a decision that he needed to be transferred out of the academy due to the fact that he had administered an improper exam last year," Ellis said. "The fact that we discovered that there were errors in transcribing the tests onto the master sheets raised questions in the chief's mind, and so it was decided in the best interests of the department and in the best
interests of the current ongoing investigation that he be transferred."
Neither Ellis nor Hylton identified the instructor, but law enforcement sources identified him as Brian Fowble. In a telephone interview, Fowble would not say exactly what happened. But he denied recording perfect scores that were not earned or providing answers to students before administering tests.
"I am 100 percent flat denying that," he said. "That did not occur."
Fowble confirmed he had been transferred. He said he could not comment on the records showing all the students were marked as receiving perfect scores. He said he believed the students in Session 115 had learned the skills as required.
Fowble's transfer appears to be the first visible fallout from the far-reaching investigation into allegations of cheating in the department's police academy Session 115. Thirty-four students graduated from that class in July 2009. Thirty-two went to work for the Prince George's department and two went to work for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.
Questions continue to swirl about the legitimacy of those officers' state certification, though the chief has said an instructor, not the students, seems to bear most of the responsibility for any wrongdoing. The student officers, officials have said, do not appear to have cheated and will not be suspended.
"The student officers were following the instructions of their instructor," Ellis said. "Our police academy is paramilitary, and those student officers have to follow ... the directions of their instructor. So I would have to say it would not be within the culture of paramilitary organizations to question an instructor."
Hylton has ordered internal affairs investigators to audit all the records of Session 115 and the two classes that followed it, Sessions 116 and 117. Records reviewed so far show that although all the students in Session 115 did not earn 100 percent on several tests administered in the final two weeks before graduation, other irregularities were evident.
On one test, for example, everyone in the class marked the same answer incorrectly for one question, and it was scored as being correct, the audit showed. On another test -- which was technically only two questions, though it required students to fill in several blanks -- four students failed with a 50 percent score but were recorded as receiving a perfect
score, the audit showed. Authorities said the students demonstrated mastery of the subject on other tests.
Fowble has already been fined for providing students with test answers, authorities said, and Ellis said he did not believe that conduct was "widespread." Ellis said Fowble could face other discipline for awarding the students undeserved perfect scores, and others could also be disciplined as the investigation continues. He said the job in the sex offender unit is less
records intensive than the job as an academy instructor.
"You can talk to any teacher, and they'll tell you, the amount of paperwork that they have to maintain and manage can be enormous," he said. "And we don't see that same amount of paperwork in the sex offender registry unit."
-- Matt Zapotosky
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