School in Breaux Bridge promised black students elite colleges

Darian Graivshark
T.M. Landry College Prep

Erica L. Green and Katie Benner, reporters for The New York Times, investigated a claim about a school in a small town of town of Louisiana.

T.M. Landry is a private school located in Breaux Bridge. According to the report from The New York Times, the school made claims of sending black students from the working-class to elite universities, like Harvard.

However, the investigation by Green and Benner uncovered evidence of transcripts filled with falsehoods, as well as abuse at the school. Students reported during the investigation that Michael Landry, a teacher at T.M. Landry, before receiving probation, told them to lie on their college applications.

Mr. Landry has been seen acting out on this abuse amongst the students. According to the report by The New York Times, Mr. Landry had admitted to hitting children before. He didn’t, however, plead guilty in court. Students reported to Green and Benner that they have witnessed Mr. Landry choking students, slamming them on desks, and even putting an autistic child into a closet.

Green and Benner reported that students said they have also been forced to kneel on rice, hot pavement, and rocks. They were choked, yelled at, and berated. The Times reported that Mr. Landry even made claims that he had personal relationships with people at schools like Harvard, and that he could either get the students into the school or keep them out.

But the newspaper investigation brought forth a Harvard spokeswoman, Rachael Dane, who told Green and Benner that Mr. Landry seriously misrepresents his relationship with T.M. Landry School and the Harvard College admissions office.

For T.M. Landry, it was more about the image and their name than actually getting the students into elite colleges correctly. Green and Benner received information from the students that their transcripts have shown advanced classes with good grade marks that they hadn’t even taken.

Moreover, many students who were accepted into elite colleges found it difficult to keep up with the coursework. According to what Green and Benner reported, a few have had to drop out and retake some coursework to catch up or receive tutoring. However, some were able to catch on easily and progress easily at the schools.

"Erica usually covers education, and we got a tip from someone about the issue," Benner said. "I ran it by her and we decided to start making calls about the situation and bring it to light."

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.