AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — The Air Force Academy in Colorado was investigating whether 40 freshman cadets cheated in a chemistry class by copying portions of a lab assignment.
"We are sorely disappointed in this extremely small segment of our 4,000-plus cadet population," Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said Monday.
Students who fall to meet the high standards at the school will be held accountable, she said.
Cadets caught cheating can be expelled, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported (http://tinyurl.com/mchobbr) that freshmen violators are generally treated more leniently and can be placed on probation.
The disclosure followed an investigation launched in January by the U.S. Air Force after dozens of nuclear missile officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana allegedly cheated on their launch proficiency exams. It was the latest in a string of nuclear missteps revealed last year by The Associated Press.
The problems prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to launch two probes of the entire nuclear force to find causes for leadership lapses and other problems. Hagel said the steps were necessary to restore public confidence.
The latest investigation at the Air Force Academy is the fourth probe of cheating involving a group of cadets at the school since 2004.
Allegations are investigated by a cadet-run honor board that determines whether the honor code was broken.
In 2012, the academy said 78 cadets were accused of cheating on an online calculus test by getting help during the exam from a website. All but four accepted responsibility, and most were given remediation classes.
In 2007, 15 cadets were expelled and three resigned for cheating on a test of general knowledge about the Air Force. Another 13 were placed on probation.
Academy spokesman David Cannon said freshmen violators no longer face mandatory expulsion and can instead be placed on honor probation. They are generally confined to campus and assigned extra duty, including miles of marching.
First-time offenders who acknowledge wrongdoing get a one-time chance to stay at the academy if they undergo a months-long program aimed at improving their morality.