Public School Teachers Cheated On Certification Tests For 15 Years, Authorities Say

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(CBS/AP) MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Apparently students aren't the only ones getting caught cheating on tests.

Federal prosecutors in Memphis say they've uncovered a scheme to help aspiring public school teachers cheat on the tests they must pass to prove they are qualified to lead their classrooms.

Over the course of 15 years, teachers in three Southern states paid long-time educator Clarence Mumford Sr. to send someone else to take the tests in their place, authorities said. Mumford received a fee of between $1,500 and $3,000 to send one of his test ringers with fake identification to the Praxis exam. In return, his customers got a passing grade, according to federal prosecutors in Memphis.

The aspiring teachers then used the test score to secure a job with a public school district, an indictment alleges.

Authorities say the scheme affected hundreds - if not thousands - of public school students who ended up being taught by unqualified instructors.

Mumford faces more than 60 fraud and conspiracy charges that claim he created fake drivers licenses with the information of a teacher or an aspiring teacher and attached the photograph of a test-taker. Prospective teachers are accused of giving Mumford their Social Security numbers for him to make the fake identities.

Fourteen people have been charged with mail and Social Security fraud, and four people have pleaded guilty to charges associated with the scheme.

Mumford "obtained tens of thousands of dollars" during the alleged conspiracy, which prosecutors say lasted from 1995 to 2010 in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. If convicted, Mumford could face between two and 20 years in prison on each count. The teachers face between two and 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.

Among those charged is former University of Tennessee and NFL wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who is accused of employing a test-taker for a Praxis physical education exam. He was charged in late October with four counts of Social Security and mail fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and is out of jail on a $10,000 bond. He has been suspended by the Memphis City Schools system.