A former assistant superintendent in the Beaumont (Texas) Independent School District has pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with test cheating and stolen funds.
Patricia Adams Lambert, 61, of Beaumont, who was promoted from principal to assistant superintendent in 2012, admitted to theft involving programs that receive federal funds and conspiracy to submit false statements concerning standardized test scores. Under terms of her plea agreement, Lambert faces a prison sentence of up to 40 months.
Prosecutors say that as principal of Central Medical Magnet High School from 2006 to 2012, Lambert "created a culture...among the faculty and staff where cheating on standardized tests was accepted."
Lambert "encouraged teachers and staff to manipulate students’ standardized test scores or had knowledge that cheating occurred," the government contended. "Despite the fact that she knew that cheating was occurring on standardized tests, she signed and submitted Oaths of Test Security...where she falsely affirmed all the requirements governing standardized test security were met."
According to information presented in court, Lambert was hired by Beaumont in 2002 and became principal at Central in 2006. On May 17, 2012, Lambert was promoted to assistant superintendent.
The evidence showed that test manipulation occurred on a regular basis from 2007 to 2012. Teachers would aggregate large numbers of tests and then erase and change incorrect answers to correct answers after students turned their tests; teachers also would give students answers while they were taking the tests.
In October 2007, Lambert took over control of the high school's booster club. "From 2007 until 2013 Lambert made purchases of personal items, not related to school activities, by using Booster Club checks and the Booster Club debit card," prosecutors asserted. "During this same time period, Lambert wrote and signed Booster Club checks fraudulently made out to herself, her relatives, and “cash,” and deposited those checks into her own personal bank account."
Lambert also wrote checks on the high school's student activity funds account for her personal use or the use of her family members, according to the charges. She also employed her son, Brian Collins, as the primary “printer” for various district items "knowing full well that Collins, rather than doing any actual printing work, was securing the services of an actual printing business, and marking up the price for that work anywhere from 25 percent to 215 percent."