Underprivileged Black High School Famed for it Rags-to-Riches Ivy-League Graduates Was All a Sham



Wow. Louisiana’s T.M. Landry College Preparatory School’s made quite a name for itself, partially thanks to viral videos showing its black students opening their acceptance letters to Ivy League universities. The campaign even landed the school on the Today show.


One look at the roster of colleges welcoming underprivileged pupils with open arms, and it’s hard not to be impressed. Harvard, Stanford, Wesleyan — the school was a paragon of achievement.

Amazingly, it once trumpeted “a 100-percent college acceptance rate.”

But its greatest accomplishment was fraud.

According to The New York Times, the whole thing was a sham, and in reality, the joint is jacked up.

Landry is fraught with financial and legal woes, and its owners are waist-deep in inflammatory allegations. They include lying on university applications about the terrible circumstances of its students (without the students’ knowledge), verbal and physical abuse — and perhaps most egregious of all — fudging grades:

The school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity..

In 2013, [co-founder Michael] Landry was sentenced to probation and attended an anger management program after pleading guilty to a count of battery. Despite the documentation, he insisted that he did not plead guilty or serve probation. Mr. Landry said that the victim was a student whose mother asked him to hit her child, and he said he had eased up on physical punishments.

“I don’t do that anymore,” he said….

[Student] Tyler Sassau…said he can still feel the humiliation and smell the stench on his clothes from kneeling last year on a bathroom floor for nearly two hours.

“I wasn’t going to get up without asking him because if I did, I could’ve got something worse,” he said. “I could barely stand when I got up.”

…More than a dozen students and staff members told The Times of pupils being humiliated in front of their peers and of racial groups being pitted against one another. Academically weak students were demeaned, and headstrong students were made to kneel.

More than a half-dozen students interviewed said they had witnessed Mr. Landry choking their schoolmates, and three students observed him slam others on desks. Another three students said they saw Mr. Landry place a child with autism in a closet.


In response to the viral stories of incredible achievement, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations came rolling in. The money remains mostly unaccounted for.

Those who went on to college had mixed levels of success, and parents who’ve had their kids assessed have discovered that most were actually behind their grade level.

Dodie Thomas, a T.M. Landry grandmother, said she discovered that her 6-year-old granddaughter had never learned phonics and that she could not read. She played with Legos most of the day.

“I feel like I’ve paid for a high-priced babysitter,” Ms. Thomas said.

I suppose Landry’s story confirms that adage we’ve no doubt all heard, numerous times: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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