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Charges dismissed against Keokuk teachers accused of cheating

Charges have been dismissed against two Keokuk, Iowa, teachers who were previously accused of cheating and fraud.

On August 22, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) voted to dismiss allegations against two Keokuk Middle School teachers, Ehren Wills and Kay Slusher.

Wills and Slusher were accused of cheating on a master’s education program at Hannibal-LaGrange University that Wills took in May of 2015.

The BoEE reported that on May 27, 2016, WIlls called and emailed her principal, Brad McCloskey, and alerted him to a possible security breach of her email account. She reported that a former school employee, Amy Davis, had accessed her email account and was harassing her. Davis accused Wills of cheating on her master’s program by having Slusher complete her work. McCloskey directed the school information technology director to look into her allegations. It was confirmed that Wills’ email account had been accessed by a server in Columbus Junction using Will’s username and password. Many of Wills’ old emails had been forwarded to the account, causing them to be at the top of the email list. The forwarded emails dealt with Wills’ master’s program and reflected a high degree of involvement by Slusher. McClosky and Superintendent Tim Hood determined that an investigation should be completed.

The BoEE stated that Wills and Slusher admitted that Slusher provided extensive assistance in her role as a typist, editor, and logistical coordinator. Dr. Jill Arnold, the director of the academic program at HLGU, confirmed that this level of assistance and collaboration is not a violation of the University’s academic integrity policy. Wills informed Arnold during her enrollment that she was having her work reviewed by an English teacher and collaborating with co-workers. She did not hide this assistance, and Dr. Arnold was not concerned.

In summary, the BoEE reported that it is apparent that the assistance Slusher admittedly provided gave Wills a significant advantage that may not have been available to other students. The report stated that the emails raised serious concerns and it is understandable that the school administrators suspected Slusher had produced work for Wills. However, when the record is reviewed as a whole, it is not evident that Slusher actually produced original content for Wills. According to Arnold, anything less is not a violation of the Hannibal-LaGrange academic integrity policy. As a result, the preponderance of the evidence does not establish that Slusher and Wills committed fraud by knowingly providing false information or representations in connection with the discharge of their duties.

Read the full case below:

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