college prep company sued
college prep company sued
Feb 23 2008, 02:08 AM
sleep now, moon
Group: Staff Alumni
Joined: May 2007
Member No: 526,212
Lawsuit accuses North Texas SAT prep company of pirating tests
By Katherine Cromer Brock and Jessamy Brown
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
A North Texas SAT prep company is being sued by the exam's maker, which accuses the company of pirating copyrighted tests.
The outcome of the lawsuit could affect students who took classes through Karen Dillard's College Prep, which has offices in Colleyville, Plano and Dallas and charges as much as $2,299 for test preparation services.
The suit, filed in a Dallas federal court Wednesday by the College Board, accuses College Prep of copyright infringement, saying the company illegally copied test materials and illegally obtained at least one "live" test to help students practice.
Dillard, who owns the company with her husband, David Dillard, said the allegations in the lawsuit are lies designed to run her out of business.
"They are my competitor," Dillard said Wednesday. "They make their money by selling their test prep materials, and they want 100 percent of the profit."
The College Board, which publishes the SAT and PSAT exams, maintains that students don't necessarily need a preparation course. It recommends they prepare by taking practice tests, some of which are available free on its Web site.
"Most distressing to us is that students and their parents put their faith in this expensive prep process that was ultimately based on stealing the College Board's work product," said Edna Johnson, senior vice president of the College Board.
The lawsuit names Karen and David Dillard of Plano and College Prep Executive Director Matthew Novotny as defendants.
It alleges that Novotny obtained a copy of the PSAT administered Oct. 17 from his brother, Michael Novotny, the principal of T.C. Jasper High School in Plano.
Michael Novotny, who is not named as a defendant, declined to comment when reached at his office by the Associated Press.
The lawsuit also claims that the company sold or tried to sell copyrighted materials to another test-prep company and to unspecified Texas school districts.
The lawsuit alleges the company was well aware of the copyright infringements, referring to test material as the "PVA," which stood for "Pirated Version." The suit estimates the cost of creating a replacement test at $625,000.
Dillard said the College Board used to allow private test-prep companies to purchase old test booklets annually. She continued to use those booklets after the College Board stopped releasing that material in July 2005.
"The material we used was released material that we felt we had the right to use," she said. "When it was brought to our attention that we could not, it was stopped immediately."
Dillard said a disgruntled eight-year employee told the College Board all of the company's "trade secrets." Johnson said the College Board was approached by a whistle-blower inside the company.
Four months ago, the College Board spent three days in Texas auditing College Prep's materials.
In the highly-competitive college admissions arena, the College Prep course is one of many tools that parents use to help their children get into the desired college.
Parents of students who have taken Dillard's courses support the program and said they would use it again despite the allegations.
"The results I saw with my child means they did a good job," said Tammy Nakamura, whose daughter Natalia, a 2007 graduate of Grapevine High School, took the course and had private tutoring. "I believe it helped her to get into the University of Oklahoma."
Laurie Witt's daughter Nikki graduated last year from Colleyville Heritage and took Dillard's course. Witt said Wednesday that she would use the company with her other three students.
"I think it's a good advantage," Witt said.
Alana Klein, a spokeswoman for the College Board, said the scores of some College Prep customers could be canceled. The College Board has taken similar action in the past.
"At this point, we don't how many students were affected. The investigation has just begun," Klein said. "We filed this lawsuit in part to have access to more information to better determine if other tests were pirated as well."
Dillard said the threat to void students' scores is little more than a scare tactic to drive business away.
"I've built my reputation by the quality of what we've done," she said. "I've not built my reputation on lies, but on commitment to the students and their families, and a lot of hard work."
Staff writer Joy Donovan contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.
About the tests
The College Board administers both the PSAT and the SAT college entrance exams. The exams are considered "live" until they are officially retired. Test-site administrators are instructed to collect all test forms and lock them away.
The PSAT is generally taken by younger students as practice for the SAT, but it is used to select National Merit Scholarship recipients.
The SAT is used for college admissions. It is administered seven times a year, and some parts of the exam are sometimes reused.
over the summer i went to kdcp probably five or six times a week. nowadays i go once or twice a week.
i'm taking the SAT next saturday :(
Feb 23 2008, 02:48 AM
Resource Center Tyrant
Group: Official Member
Joined: Nov 2007
Member No: 593,306
Serves them right. SAT prep classes are useless. You'd find more wisdom by talking to other people around here who has taken the SAT. Don't stress about it. . .but manage your time well during the test. They pack on a lot of stuff in a crunched time.