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Iowa Watchdog

Davenport principal at school involved in cheating changes jobs

6/21/2013

DES MOINES – The principal of a Davenport elementary school being investigated for cheating on state tests will move to a different building next school year, according to district officials.

Madison Elementary School Principal Sara Gott moves to another position within the district after cheating scandal.

Madison Elementary School Principal Sara Gott moves to another position within the district after cheating scandal.

Sara Gott, now former principal of Madison Elementary School, will take the reins at Hayes Elementary School, while Steve Mielenhausen, a principal in the Davenport School District, will take Gott’s position at Madison.

Dawn Saul, spokeswoman for the district, said the change had nothing to do with the ongoing state investigation into cheating on state reading and math tests among third- through fifth-graders at the school. Principal reassignments aren’t unusual, she said.

Madison became the center of a cheating scandal that was first publicly announced in April, despite a two-month internal investigation. The district has hired two law firms, one of which hired an outside company to aide in the investigation. Saul did not respond to requests regarding the name of the company hired.

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Davenport spent more than $9,300 as of April on legal fees. So far, they have yet to find who tampered with the tests, according to district officials.

Iowa Department of Education spokeswoman Staci Hupp said the state’s investigation is still ongoing and names have yet, if at all, to be turned over to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. The board has the authority to take action against teacher and administrator licenses after conducting its own investigation, Hupp said.

Gott, who was at Madison for two years, hired two attorneys after the scandal unfolded and has said she had nothing to do with the widespread erasures on tests. Cathy Cartee, one of her attorneys, said her client passed a polygraph test that was given at her attorney’s urging.

Contact Sheena Dooley at dooley@iowawatchdog.org. Sheena Dooley is the Iowa bureau chief for Watchdog.org, where this story first appeared.

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