Louisiana School Famous For Rags-To-Riches Ivy League Acceptances Exposed As Fraud

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

T.M. Landry College Preparatory School in Lousiana made headlines with a series of viral videos showing their students reacting to news that they’d been accepted to Ivy League Universities.

But a new report from The New York Times has exposed the dark underbelly of the school that once boasted “a 100-percent college acceptance rate.”

According to the report, transcripts were doctored and extracurricular activities were invented. Students were encouraged to lie about their family situations in order to make their successes appear even more dramatic. And students and teachers alike described a “culture of abuse” that was widespread.

T.M. Landry rocketed to the top of the news cycle in 2017 when a number of their college acceptance videos went viral. (RELATED: Harvard Dean Defends Race-Based Admissions On First Day Of Trial)

The school was profiled by The Washington Post.

“The Today Show,” as recently as October of this year, ran a segment touting the school’s unprecedented success.

But beneath the surface, according to The NYT’s report, things were not so simple:

The colleges “want to be able to get behind the black kids going off and succeeding, and going to all of these schools,” said Raymond Smith Jr., who graduated from T.M. Landry in 2017 and enrolled at NYU. He said that Mr. Landry forced him to exaggerate his father’s absence from his life on his NYU application.

“It’s a good look,” these colleges “getting these bright, high-flying, came-from-nothing-turned-into-something students,” Mr. Smith said.

Most students and teachers admitted in a series of interviews with The NYT that parts of transcripts had been exaggerated or even invented in order to make the students more appealing to prestigious universities. But even more disturbing were the allegations of abuse — both emotional and physical.

Students described being “forced to kneel on grains of rice, rocks and hot pavement,” and said that they were often yelled at by Landry himself.

Landry, who described himself as a “drill sergeant,” admitted that he yelled “a lot” and openly encouraged competition among students because “that is how the real world works.” He denied having students kneel in harsh conditions or for longer than five minutes.

One student, Tyler Sassau, refuted that point, saying Landry had forced him to kneel on a bathroom floor for two hours. “I wasn’t going to get up without asking him, because if I did, I could’ve got something worse. I could barely stand when I got up,” he said.

The students who went on to the Ivy Leagues from Landry since 2013 — when the school’s first class graduated — have had mixed success.

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