HOSCHTON, Ga. - The school year has barely begun. Yet some high school students at Mill Creek find themselves in trouble already. A Gwinnett County Schools investigation has led to the suspension of dozens of students for cheating. The investigation centers on a summer reading assignment.
Principal Jason Lane handed out one-day out-of-school suspensions for plagiarism. Students were instructed to choose a book and write an essay. Teachers going over the essays noticed in dozens of cases the writing was just too similar to be a coincidence.
The summer reading scandal lit up social media, with some predicting 400 students would be disciplined. The superintendent's office called that an exaggeration. The number is fewer than 100.
"Some students flat out plagiarized. There have been some discussions that one particular student wrote an essay and then was paid money for other students to copy the answers," said Mill Creek High School parent Leanne LaRosa.
LaRosa acknowledged her teen boy will have to serve a one-day suspension for it what his father called collaboration: Using FaceTime with a friend to complete the assignment.
“If they caught him cheating or if they don't follow policy, give him a zero, that's fine. But don't suspend him. And also don't put it on his permanent record. I mean this is not a math test that's being done in a final at a school. It was a summer reading assignment,” said Mill Creek High School parent Marc LaRosa.
A spokesperson called the cheating serious and upsetting that so many pupils violated the honor code.
Some parents, such as the LaRosas, have the option to appeal the suspension.