Local News: Former principal gets probation for taking test for student (05/17/15) Local News: Former principal gets probation for taking test for student (05/17/15)

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A former Doniphan (Missouri) High
School principal was placed on probation after he pleaded guilty to
fraudulently using a former student's identification when he took a
college placement test for that student. 

Ronald W. McCutchen, 54, of Park Hills, Missouri, entered an Alford plea
and was "found guilty" of the Class B misdemeanor of identity theft
before Presiding Circuit Judge David Evans on May 6 in Howell County,
according to Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Miller.

An Alford plea means, based on the evidence the state was going to
present at the trial, there was a great likelihood of conviction. It
still is considered a guilty plea.

Originally charged with the Class B felony of forgery, McCutchen pleaded
guilty to a misdemeanor after Miller filed an amended information with
the court.

It alleged on July 17, McCutchen "knowingly, with the intent to deceive
or defraud," used a name and date of birth, not "lawfully issued" for
his use, in a Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment Support System test
"taken for a former student ... knowing that the test answers"
allegedly submitted to the testing agency under the student's name were

Miller said the misdemeanor plea was the result of plea negotiations with McCutchen's attorney, Sam Spain.

After accepting McCutchen's plea, Evans suspended his sentence and placed him on two years' unsupervised probation.

McCutchen, Miller said, was ordered to pay court costs and $300 to the
Ripley County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund. Miller said McCutchen
also surrendered his teaching certificate.

McCutchen pleaded guilty in connection to an investigation by the
Doniphan Police Department that began Oct. 1, the same day McCutchen was
placed on paid administrative leave by the district. McCutchen had been
with the district for six years, according to the Missouri Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The investigating officer reviewed testing records that showed the student took the test in April 2014.

A review of the testing website showed another test was taken by the
same student July 16. Those results were not entered into the school's
records, but were faxed to Three Rivers College.

The former student, according to earlier reports, told the officer he
was at Three Rivers when he received a message from McCutchen about "his
new test scores."

Based on the new scores, the former student was given a scholarship, but
he told the officer he felt guilty and did not return to the college.

The former student told the investigating officer he asked McCutchen to take the July test so he could get a better score.

A review by the school's IT department reportedly showed McCutchen
logging into a high school library computer and the COMPASS website on
the date the test was taken.

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