Parent charged in college admissions scam, told to instruct daughter to lie to a psychologist

Thursday, March 14, 2019
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Many of the parents accused of bribing their way into elite universities allegedly helped their children cheat on the college entrance exams.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many of the parents accused of bribing their way into elite universities, allegedly helped their children cheat on the college entrance exams, which is disturbing to many people, including the professionals who work in testing.

According to the criminal complaint, Gordon Caplan, a prominent New York attorney, was instructed to tell his daughter, "to be stupid, not as smart as she is," while being evaluated by a psychologist for extra time on her ACT exam. "The goal is to be slow, to be not as bright," said complaining witness 1.

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"It really makes me angry," exclaimed Charles Roth, who is a psychologist specializing in learning differences. He's been evaluating Bay Area students for 20 years and works with schools and families to determine if a child needs special accommodations.

"There are students who need extended time without a question."

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, students diagnosed with, learning disabilities, ADHD, psychiatric disorders, visual or hearing impairment, autism or medical conditions like a brain injury, might qualify for accommodations like extra time on tests.

Roth spends a minimum of nine hours testing a student and based on the results may recommend that student receive 50-percent or 100-percent more time on a test. But Caplan was allegedly trying to game the system to get extra time for his daughter.

"I'm looking out for the normal kid. Why do they have to get punished because some kid makes up something? That seems very unfair to me," said David Benjamin Gruenbaum, who has been an ACT and SAT tutor in Marin and Sonoma Counties for 30 years.

Gruenbaum feels too many students get extra time and limits need to be set.

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"The thing that seems dreadfully unfair to me is the business of taking it over several days, so if they force everyone who does have extra time to take it in one sitting, that would seem a little fairer to me"

Other parents charged in the college admissions scam, are accused of having other people take the SAT and ACT for their kids or having proctors correct their answers.

Prosecutors are taking the fraud very seriously, and if convicted, these parents could face multiple years in prison.

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