TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — As many as 10,000 Florida teachers and principals are believed to have passed their certification exams using materials the federal government alleges were stolen from the state.
The Florida couple behind the prep course that used the materials face lengthy prison terms.
Kathleen and Jeremy Jasper of Estero face 108 counts of wire fraud and three counts of stealing trade secrets, in this case, the contents of the teacher certification exam and the executive leadership exam.
As the couple entered court Friday, News Channel 8’s Mike Vasilinda asked if they believed they had committed a crime.
“We’re not going to talk to you,” said Jeremy Jasper.
Once inside the courthouse they surrendered their passports.
“The defendants, in this case, are accused of breaching the conditions of taking the test,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Keen.
Keen, the lead prosecutor in the case, said the couple would take the exams multiple times.
“And they are accused of harvesting the exam questions. Basically memorizing the test questions and then brain dumping them,” he said.
The couple then sold what they learned through their company, NavaED.
As many as 10,000 certified teachers and principals may have taken the courses.
“It isn’t simply that trade secrets that were stolen, which is a crime, but it’s the secondary direct impact it has on potentially compromising the integrity of the process by which the state of Florida tests, evaluates and certifies its teachers and principals,” said Lawrence Keefe, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
After the Department of Education became suspicious, the couple was barred from taking the certification exam.
The indictment says an unspecified number of school districts, colleges and universities encouraged applicants to use NavaED.
Attorney Tom Finley, who is representing the Jaspers, said the couple is innocent.
“A lot of those questions are already on the FDOE website, so how can they be trade secrets,” said Finley.
Combined, the couple face centuries, not decades, in prison and millions in fines.
As the case moves forward, the couple is forbidden from using the materials in question but may continue to operate their business to provide prep courses not related to teacher certification exams.
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