The Air Force Academy is looking into 10 cases in which freshmen cadets may have cheated on a final exam as possible honor code violations.

The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs on Thursday reported that some cadets’ final exams showed “suspicious results,” that prompted the academy to take a closer look at the tests.

Academy spokeswoman Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko said in a Thursday email to Air Force Times that the faculty was carrying out “clarifications” with some cadets, the first step before a case goes forward with the honor process. The exams in question concluded May 17, Bunko said.

When a faculty member has any concern that a cadet may have cheated or plagiarized, the case is immediately flagged, Bunko said. A “clarification” session is held with the cadet to address concerns of wrongdoing openly and to find out if there is a reasonable explanation, Bunko said.

If there is not a reasonable explanation, the case is forwarded to the honor system, which then determines whether a violation has occurred.

“Academic integrity at the academy is taken extremely seriously,” Bunko said.

In a Friday email, Bunko said that after preliminary clarifications, 10 cases would be forwarded to the cadet honor process for further scrutiny.

“It is important to clarify that all or none of these [cadets] could ultimately be found in violation of our academic standards and the cadet honor code,” Bunko said. “Any of them who are found in violation will face academic and disciplinary consequences.”

The Gazette reported that the case involved the mathematics final exam. Bunko confirmed the cadets under investigation are all freshmen, so the investigations will not affect any graduations next week.

Bunko said that because they are freshmen, if they are found to have cheated, they would most likely face an academic penalty and probation as punishment.

The academy last carried out a major cheating investigation in 2017, after 13 freshmen were accused of cheating on a basic Air Force knowledge test.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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