Three Former Teachers Charged with Fraud in High School Testing Scam
Last updated 9/23/2022 at 9:03pm
HUDSON – FDLE agents arrested three former Hudson High School (HHS) teachers after a fraudulent testing scam involving certification exams for Agriculture Education Services and Technology (AEST), Inc.
According to officials, 38-year-old Robert "Rob" Edward Herrington of Port Richey, 47-year-old Harold "Jim" James Martin III of Hudson, and 31-year-old Kathleen "Kate" Rebecca Troutman of Bradford, Arkansas are each charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud.
Officials say agents received an anonymous complaint about the testing process at Hudson High School and initiated a statewide audit. The audit revealed Hudson High School students took more certification exams than any other school in Florida, their students completed the tests in less than half the time of other students, and they had much higher pass rates. Agriculture Education Services and Technology (AEST), Inc.
FDLE began its investigation last May at the request of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office after they received a complaint from Pasco County Schools.
As part of the program, teachers are paid a bonus of $25 to $50 for each passed test taken by their students. School districts are also paid several hundred dollars for each passed test. Before being allowed to administer the exams, teachers are required to pass them using the same requirements as the students, taking the tests individually, without study guides or test materials and with a proctor present.
FDLE agents say some of the suspects listed below took their administrator exams together and, after recording the test questions, they prepared study guides for their students, which were exact copies of the certification exams. No proctors were present.
The suspects recruited students to help produce study guides, which were allowed to be used while taking the tests. In addition, the teachers provided students with answers during the exams and in some cases actually took the tests for the students, including those in Exceptional Student Education (ESE), often without their knowledge. Proctors were never used.
The scheme, which spanned over four years, resulted in the loss of more than $708,000, including $36,725 paid in teacher bonuses. AEST says they are invalidating more than 1,000 certification exams from HHS.
The investigation remains active, say officials.