Prep schools accused as SAT scandal broadens

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Prep schools accused as SAT scandal broadens


The intense competition for high scores on the U.S.-based Scholastic Aptitude Test is now pitting private academies against each other in court.

The Elite Educational Institute, a private SAT-prep institute in Gangnam, recently filed a complaint against “R” academy at the Seocho Police Precinct in southern Seoul for using Elite’s textbooks without authorization.

In addition, Elite institute said Wednesday that it is planning to submit a complaint against “S” academy at the Seocho precinct next Tuesday for copyright infringement.

“We have discovered that S made question books by changing the order of questions from our English composition book,” an executive at Elite said on condition of anonymity.

R has also been linked to the burgeoning SAT cheating scandal.

The school employed two lecturers surnamed Kim and Jang. Kim, 38, is currently under investigation for allegedly obtaining the SAT test and answer sheets from someone who took the exam in Bangkok. Jang, 36, was detained by police on Thursday for allegedly causing three undergraduates to steal mathematics and physics questions when they took SAT tests at a high school in Gyeonggi on Jan. 23. The undergraduates have also been indicted, without detention.

Several other private academies are saying there are more lecturers who also leaked test papers.

At the same time, questions about instructors’ educational backgrounds are intensifying - and again, R is at the center of the allegations.

In the best-known case, Jeffrey Sohn, 38, a top SAT lecturer who was kidnapped and beaten by workers at R after he tried to leave it for another school last December, actually did not earn his doctorate degree at Columbia University in New York, according to Suseo police. Investigators said Sohn was simply a student at Columbia’s School of Continuing Education.

Sohn has been accused of leaking SAT questions and answers via e-mail and by uploading the material on the online cafe “Newsat” on the Korean portal Daum after taking the test on his own.

Suseo police have obtained a search warrant to go through Newsat’s records and Sohn’s e-mail.

With help from the Justice Ministry, the precinct has also banned Sohn from traveling overseas.

“We are probing into whether all the above lecturers collaborated with R to leak the test,” an officer, who asked not to be named, said.


By Song Ji-hye, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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