Cheating on the SAT may soon be a felony in New York, if State Senator Kenneth LaValle gets his way. His bill would create the new felonies of facilitation of education testing fraud and of scheming to defraud educational testing. The proposed legislation would also create the misdemeanor of forgery of a test.
This bill is the result of the highly publicized SAT cheating scandal that has unfolded on Long Island.
The bill would also beef up the security of the testing process through photo identification, and even possible fingerprinting or retinal scans.
The College Board has been criticized for what has been characterized as lax security procedures during administration of the test. Members of the Board believe the instances of cheating are extremely rare, and that the few cases that have been referred to law enforcement have not been taken seriously.
Should cheating on the SAT be a felony? Under New York law, being a convicted felon is a stigma with substantial consequences. For example, convicted felons may suffer the following civil disabilities:
- Security guards and private investigators are ineligible for licensure if they have been convicted of a felony.
- Surrogate Court fiduciaries are ineligible if convicted of a felony.
- A citizen is ineligible to serve as a juror if convicted of a felony.
- Certain liquor store employees are ineligible for employment if convicted of a felony.
- a person convicted of a felony may not become a Notary Public.
- A person convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing a rifle or shotgun.
- A person convicted of a felony is ineligible for a firearm license.
- Felons are ineligible for license as real estate brokers or salesperson.
- Felons are ineligible to register to vote, unless and until pardoned, restored to citizenship rights by the Governor, maximum sentence of imprisonment has expired, or parole discharge.
Keep in mind that there are ways that some of these civil disabilities may be restored, but it still shows how seriously a felony conviction can affect a person’s future. There is no question that SAT cheating should be taken seriously, but making the offense a felony seems unduly harsh to me.
Keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice. If you have a specific legal issue or problem, consult an attorney.
We shall soon find out what the New York State legislature thinks.