A cheater sues his teacher

In Ohio, Shi Huang is suing his AP bio teacher, administrators and the Kent Board of Education for making it too easy to hack into the teacher’s computer to find test questions. The honors student was caught, suspended for five days and given an F. His 3.97 grade point average was ruined and he was rejected by Harvard, Princeton, Duke and his other top college choices. He thinks that’s unfair.

“My only intention was to study for the test and get a better grade on the test. They viewed it as somehow I got into their (computer) system and they see me as a big threat … All I wanted to do was study for the test.”

A Chinese national, Huang faces deportation, he claims, if convicted of “unauthorized use of school property” for the hacking. His father is studying for a PhD at Kent State.

In addition to monetary damages, the suit seeks to remove the record of Huang’s suspension, eliminate the failing grade from his official transcript, restore his class rank (third at the time), resend midyear transcripts to colleges and drop a charge of complicity for unauthorized use of property, which is pending in juvenile court.

Huang and his parents blame teacher James Zagray for not helping Huang when he had trouble in class. The teacher had allowed students to see possible test questions on his web site earlier in the year, Huang said, but changed the password to cut off access.

“Suspecting Shi might try to cheat on the next exam, Zagray set a trap by selecting ‘Carl’ — Shi’s nickname — as the new password,” the lawsuit says. “The trap worked. Under extreme pressure to maintain his GPA for the midyear report to colleges, Shi tried something he had never done before: he asked a friend knowledgeable about computers if he could figure out Zagray’s password so he could study for an exam.”

Huang got a 95 on the test. His parents, who were teachers in China, say their son didn’t really cheat because he found the test questions, but not the answers, on the site and still had to study.

They suspect that racial discrimination may have played a role in the district’s response and say they have contacted the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Via Ms. C, who isn’t moved by Huang’s plight.

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  1. Heck, were I Mr Zagray, I’d settle out of court and announce “no blood, no foul” in a lavish press conference. Then the admissions committees at the Ivies can google Shi Huang and ask him directly how he got his A.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Just switch to law – he would fit right in.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    Zagray rarely taught the class, instead having the students serve as instructors for their peers or had them read the textbook quietly at their desk, Huang said. The teacher also permitted students to have access to a computer site listing potential questions for upcoming exams, but for some reason stopped allowing students to view the study aid, he said.

    Assume for a minute that Huang is telling the truth– the computer site with the potential exam questions was available for a time, then stopped being available. That means that savvy students made copies of the exam questions to study from, so the test questions were available to the savvy students and their less-savvy friends. But not to Huang, for whatever reason– perhaps he didn’t have friends in the class. Huang cheated, but that’s a heck of an unfair way to run a class.

  4. Deport him. We don’t need more ethically challenged people working the system.

  5. Wayne Martin says:

    > They suspect that racial discrimination may have
    > played a role in the district’s response and say
    > they have contacted the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

    It never fails .. when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar–scream “racial discrimination”.

  6. Richard Nieporent says:

    The Huang’s may not be Jewish, but they certainly know the meaning of chutzpah. Shi admits to getting someone to help him break into the teacher’s website, but it is not his fault. If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you cheap.

    “Shi did not know what was involved in figuring out the password at all. He was so focused on getting access to the test bank, he gave no thought to what was involved in using the password for such purpose.”

    This poor little innocent boy just didn’t realize what he was doing. Is there any teenager alive today, let alone an “honor” student, that doesn’t under what the purpose of a password is? If it was all so innocent, then why didn’t he ask the teacher for the password?

    “We don’t think what Carl did was cheating,” Nianyuan Huang said. “It’s totally different from the cheating we think. He did study hard.”

    I think we can begin to see why this happened. As far as the Huang’s are concerned their son can do anything to get a good grade. The final straw is their attempt to charge the school district with racism. Their son got caught red-handed, so they cry racism. That is beneath contempt.

  7. “Zagray rarely taught the class, instead having the students serve as instructors for their peers or had them read the textbook quietly at their desk, Huang said.”

    I’m really surprised you didn’t mention this in your quote.

    Once you’re in a class that’s a joke, what the heck’s the difference if you cheat? Assuming he cheated, of course–it sounds as if it was okay to check the questions before a particular date.

  8. Cal, how does that validate breaking the rules? Cheating on exams, no matter how you want to look at it (or cry racism…), is still wrong and punishable. If he wants the reputation and credibility of graduating with honors from his high school, then he needs to follow their rules.

    This kid is just a sore loser and his parents enable this activity by not coming down on him. This suit should be thrown right out of court. He needs to learn a serious life lesson from this and get some parental guidance or he is going to be looking for handouts and loopholes for the rest of his life.

    I think I am actually more upset at his parents…

  9. “Cal, how does that validate breaking the rules?”

    What rules? Seriously. The whole thing is a joke. I don’t have any sympathy for the kid, but I know of a number of AP classes in which the teacher is completely unqualified and sits around letting the kids learn the material–or not–themselves.

    So if the kid got stuck in a class like that senior year, and the questions were open earlier in the semester–but not now–then there were no rules. The school was engaging in a far more serious fraud, that of pretending to offer a class that they weren’t delivering.

  10. Even an incompetent instructor does not excuse cheating. The wonder is that his parents think their proposed remedies will do anything to secure his admission to his “first choice colleges.” Admissions officers know how to Google, and I’m sure any number of peers will be glad to point them in the right direction.

    First, only the Huangs were talking to the press, so we don’t have the school’s side of the story. Second, you can Google for the instructor. His website strikes me as very well organized; unlike many, he seems to be putting the web to very good use. His AP bio page describes the course as: “Advanced Placement Biology includes those topics regularly covered in a college biology course for majors. This differs significantly from the usual first high school course with respect to the kind of textbook used, the range and depth of topics covered, the kind of laboratory work done by students, and the time and effort required. … Due to time constraints, it is necessary for students to effectively read for understanding and actively participate in their own learning.”

    Rather than “not teaching,” he probably required the students to “actively participate in their own learning.” From his web page, it seems he requires students to prepare presentations on selected topics, something very different from “not teaching.”

    It’s also likely that the instructor left example questions online, as a study guide, and, after an exam, allowed students to access a new page of solutions to the exam problems. One wonders why a kid ranked “#3 in his class” was struggling in an AP course. If the caliber of his work in class did not match the caliber of his performance on exams, then a logical person might draw certain conclusions. It sounds as if the teacher suspected the teen had hacked his site before, and set a trap for him.

  11. BerkeleyGuy says:

    The point is shi wasn’t the one who actually broke the law (the law being, not hacking into a computer system). So yeah, maybe they can say he cheated, but pursuing criminal charges goes a little too far. cheating is defined as “unfair advantage over others” … looking over *potential* test questions is not cheating. It’s the same thing as, for example, me doing all the problems listed at the end of the chapter. Furthermore, the fact that the teacher tried to ‘trap’ shi sounds more like a personal grudge than anything else. The password was set to ‘Carl’ so he can access it…hmmmm it sounds more like a trap to deport him (especially after the ‘criminal charges’, but I’ll leave that opinion up to you. Sounds like a post-VT overreaction doesn’t it?

    And in my opinion, this Zagray character sounds like a useless excuse for a teacher anyway. As far as I can tell he’s getting paid so that the students can teach themselves while he sits back and does nothing.

    In any case, it’s survival of the fittest.

  12. Cardinal Fang says:

    Zagray’s website for AP Bio

    The content looks good, and I suppose we shouldn’t blame a biologist for the horrible website background, which makes the page hard to read.


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