Dozens of Navy Corpsmen Students Disciplined for Cheating

FILE PHOTO -- Navy Medicine Operational Training Center Commanding Officer Capt. James Norton addresses 100 Independent Duty Corpsmen students during an open forum discussion at the Surface Warfare Medical Institute. (Photo courtesy of NMOTC)
FILE PHOTO -- Navy Medicine Operational Training Center Commanding Officer Capt. James Norton addresses 100 Independent Duty Corpsmen students during an open forum discussion at the Surface Warfare Medical Institute. (Photo courtesy of NMOTC)

The Navy announced today it had broken the second major cheating ring in three years, disciplining 31 independent duty corpsman students at the San Diego Surface Warfare Medical Institute for cheating on school exams over the last year.

The students were kicked out of the program, and administrative measures were taken to make sure they will not become independent duty corpsmen, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command officials said in a statement. Another 13 students have been recommended for separation from the Navy.

Navy brass became of the cheating problem when a student whistleblower came forward to tell staff at the San Diego school that the students were sharing test questions. The report prompted an internal command investigation, launched in February according to the announcement. This was followed by a more in-depth probe.

Officials said the second investigation was overseen by Navy Medicine Education and Training Command and was completed in May. It yielded evidence of an organized system of cheating by students and “compromised” tests.

In the wake of the findings, the school officer-in-charge and senior enlisted leader were removed from their posts, officials said. Navy Medicine Education and Training Command found they had failed to keep testing materials safe and had not worked to counteract or mitigate an environment that fostered pervasive cheating.

Replacements for those officials, who were not named by the Navy, have yet to be identified.

"We take seriously our commitment to provide the best care possible to those entrusted to us, and hold all our staff, including our corpsmen, to the highest standards. Falling short of those standards will swiftly result in the highest attention of senior leadership and quick, decisive, definitive action to ensure fidelity and confidence in the Navy Medicine team and the care we provide," Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, said in a statement. "We will not entrust the lives of others to those who cheat."

This most recent scandal comes just two years after the Navy broke open a seven-year cheating ring involving students and staff at the Naval Nuclear Power School in Goose Creek, South Carolina in 2014. In that scandal, investigators ultimately expelled 34 sailors and found that more than 76 senior enlisted instructors had colluded to cheat on qualification tests.

Unlike that affair, this most recent cheating investigation determined that no staff and faculty were involved.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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