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How Viral Videos Masked a Louisiana Prep School’s Problems | NYT News

December 24, 2019

A high school student in
front of a laptop, surrounded by classmates, dressed in college gear. A moment of
suspense, and then … [Cheers] It was a scene repeated
over and over again. Students from one
Louisiana private school opening acceptance letters
from their dream colleges. The videos often went viral. This one, of a
16-year-old student getting accepted
to Harvard, racked up over
8 million views. [Cheers] But there was more
to the story. Students told us many of
their college applications included false information
provided by their school’s administrators. And the cheers in
these videos covered up an ugly reality of abuse
and intimidation at T.M. Landry College Prep. “Abusing emotionally, physically. We realized, O.K.
something’s not right. Everything is wrong
with T.M. Landry.” Sixteen-year-old Megan Malveaux
is a former student. “There was this little kid, he was probably
about 7 or 8, and he was acting up in class. Mr. Mike, he had
took the kid by the neck and
picked him up and body slammed
him on the table.” Mr. Mike is Michael Landry. He and his wife, Tracey,
founded the school. It costs up to
$725 a month to attend, and received
national attention for its 100 percent
college acceptance rate. In various TV interviews, they pitched a message
of hope and hard work. “We’re changing society. We’re giving hope.” “Go big or go home.” The Landrys denied
falsifying transcripts and college applications, and any allegations of abuse. But they do maintain that
physical punishments are doled out because they love their students
and treat them like family. The Landrys told the
story of young black kids from a
working-class community, who overcame systemic barriers
to achieve success. “Doesn’t matter who you are, doesn’t matter where
you’ve been in life, you can do it.” And the videos were crucial
in promoting that message. Parents say they had no idea
what was going on. “All the videos, I was excited for
all the kids, because they’re kids. Little black kids like us can go to Harvard, Yale.” “I mean, the good
talking he did made you realize, well, you’re
kid needs to go to that school. If you want the best
for your kid, you need to send them
to T.M. Landry. You know, you speak
to anybody in Louisiana, they’re telling you.” When the cameras were off, students say they were
pitted against each other, interrogated and humiliated. Students say they were also
physically punished. Sometimes they would
be forced to kneel on rocks, rice or
hot concrete, for hours. “I remember the first time
I was put on my knees was because he gave me
a test and I failed it.” A New York Times investigation
found that behind the scenes, the Landrys filled out
transcripts incorrectly to reflect classes the kids
say they never took and grades they never earned. “My transcript was
messed up because he messed up my birthday
because apparently I was born the year
my mom was. He put classes that I never
even took, like chemistry.” Students told The Times
that the Landrys told them to lie on their
college applications about growing up in
households marked by poverty, crime
and drug addiction. If they refused,
they say the Landrys threatened to
do it for them. A look back
reveals clues about Michael Landry’s
temperament, like in this recent pitch that became a
passionate outburst. [Bangs fist] “Excuse me, ma’am.” But this was a rare glimpse
at his frightening tone. The Landrys produced
a steady stream of promotional material, painting a positive picture
of an unconventional school. “T.M. Landry is
a no-frills school.” “No classrooms,
no walls, no books.” “Teachers without
certifications. Classes with no
teachers at all.” After the acceptance
videos started gaining traction in 2016, press from
around the country started showing up at
their door. “Walking around campus, we saw that weird
Landry style.” Outsiders marveled
at how the Landrys could make the
impossible happen. “So, O.K. this is incredible.” “The results speak
for themselves.” “Go Landrys —” “They have figured out
the secret sauce —” “They really have.” In media interviews, they
called themselves a family — “Family first —” that pushed kids to their academic limits. “They will make it.
No is not an option. Failure is not an option.” Former students
and parents told us that for visits
like these, students would be forced to
spend days rehearsing what to say to reporters. “I plan to attend
Harvard University.” “Harvard University.” “Stanford University.” “Cornell.” “Brown.” “We have this trig book,
which is like from M.I.T., so we just basically
teach each other.” For the high school students, there was a
singular focus: practicing for the ACT. For younger kids: a loose and
insufficient curriculum that has left many
grade levels behind. When their methods
were questioned, the Landrys were quick
to dismiss any suspicions. “Some of them sound
a little brainwashed.” “When it’s a black kid and it’s strictly education, something’s wrong
with that kid.” “The reason why
I never said nothing was because I
was scared. Because they were getting
all of this attentions from news channels. They were in articles. I was so brainwashed and I was thinking,
he can’t do no wrong. But as you can see
since I’m sitting here, I was all wrong.” Now, many in the
T.M. Landry community say they feel swindled out of
time, money, and ironically, an education.


  • Reply Hello Old friend November 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Why does the inside of the school look like a flipping warehouse

  • Reply emiii _ November 23, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    I’d much rather stay with my school and attend community college… still works just as great especially if you get early college credits.

  • Reply Barb Leigh November 24, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    What a scam. Such disgusting child abuse. He and his wife need to be prosicuted and put in jail.

  • Reply Liam Ellis November 25, 2019 at 12:57 am

    This is ?

  • Reply Salina Soto November 25, 2019 at 6:25 am

    This needs to be longer. Didn't get all the information

  • Reply lilith k November 25, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Physical punishment is n o t love!!!!!!!

  • Reply kaneki k November 27, 2019 at 12:56 am

    They are stupid they would've got away with it if they didn't post dumb videos online like lmao

  • Reply Feigned November 27, 2019 at 1:29 am

    It's one thing to get in, it's another to stay in and graduate.

  • Reply Fresh Mint November 27, 2019 at 4:06 am

    Ok I get this but why don’t they talk about the ware house the desk the books where are those things !?!?

  • Reply Nathan Pratt November 27, 2019 at 6:37 am

    I have that same jacket, except mine is colored a light tan with brown elbow pads

  • Reply brennon mitchell November 27, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    I’m sorry but “little black kids like us” NO SWEETIE YOUR WHITE. Jk I’m not hating lmfao

  • Reply RetroReactive Aj November 27, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    I would literally go to that school just to record dude lying and being disrespectful.

  • Reply Wolverine101 November 29, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    100% college acceptance? Yeah, I dont believe that

  • Reply Party November 29, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Do employers even care what college your from?

  • Reply Adrian Armansyah November 30, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Ni bridget you're not black

  • Reply Anne Frank December 2, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Yassa boss! I's a be shuckin' and jivin' for da white man's camera.

  • Reply LEAH December 2, 2019 at 3:03 am

    It’s really a warehouse…

  • Reply T Lee December 2, 2019 at 7:44 am

    This is a private school. Who cares.

  • Reply Ana December 2, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I wonder how many students ended up dropping out due to not being prepared for a rigorous college workload. These families were lied to.

  • Reply Seb December 2, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    This is horrible.

  • Reply P_wilk123 December 3, 2019 at 3:02 am

    You can have a good acceptance rate, but 100%?! How were people not suspicious

  • Reply Michael S December 3, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    How is the supposedly most reputable American news source gonna write such a piece and use literally one source who is 15 years old

  • Reply Adrian Pizarro December 3, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    you can still call the school and mike picks up

  • Reply Dom s December 4, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Allow student loans to be used for paying a mentor to teach you. £250,000 to a mentor, and to start a business would be far more valuable.

  • Reply Dusable Lewis December 5, 2019 at 12:18 am

    everything you're saying is stupid and I don't care every single kid was going to a good college and long has nobody freaking died and they're going to ivy league school I think nothing else even matters you are outing this school that is clearly helping ppl

  • Reply yisus of lare December 5, 2019 at 6:33 am

    The chessboard with 3 moves on it…

  • Reply Schumi December 6, 2019 at 1:38 am

    typical Louisiana. probably the most corrupt state in the U.S.

  • Reply Vivian Wadida December 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Sadly, not just in US but all over the world, education has been sooo corrupted. It's not credible anymore. The best universities are admitting half backed kids. Times are coming when we wont have doctors, engineers etc because they will all be bogus and the credible ones will have died of old age. Shame on the greed of mankind!!!

  • Reply TheSunkenCathedral December 8, 2019 at 5:14 am

    Do you think was the kick off on exposing the rich people lying to get their kids in college

  • Reply Aathan Raan December 9, 2019 at 2:50 am

    It is easier for a black student to get into college than any other ethnicity, because of affirmative action.

  • Reply Aathan Raan December 9, 2019 at 2:53 am

    Seems like the African con scams have been brought to American soil.

  • Reply imikimi2009 December 9, 2019 at 10:01 am

    That's it? Why isn't this a full documentary tho

  • Reply Bofa Blanket December 9, 2019 at 4:33 pm


  • Reply The Marsh Fox December 9, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Just for the record, I go to a small public university and pay roughly twice as much as they do. Now remember, most of my tuition is food and board. Actual classes only cost 500 bucks because of state programs to help low income families get a college education paired with a high amount of Pell Grant money to help the rest of it. So realistically they're charging almost as much as a small university for a warehouse.

  • Reply AwesomeAna December 10, 2019 at 12:12 am

    I went to a charter school on a college campus. Everyone was stressed, none of the teachers ever left their classrooms. It was terrifying. We did the ACT practice too. When I went back to public school I figured out after just 6 weeks, I had missed most of the curriculum. Be careful parents, I had it easy, let’s hope you do too.

  • Reply Matrixie Kitty December 10, 2019 at 1:19 am

    How on earth did their teaching method get students into incredibly high colleges? It’s hard enough to do that going to a normal school. I’m smelling immense fraud!

  • Reply Ryan P December 10, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I want to know how good these kids actually do at these Ivy League schools when they have been robbed of a basic education

  • Reply Trap Bobby December 10, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    Wish someone faked my transcripts and got me into Yale

  • Reply Nabila Putri December 11, 2019 at 12:56 am

    The question is,why would a 7 year old kid entered college prep school?

  • Reply Ken Kaneki December 11, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Did that women got grope at 0:13
    Looks like two men on diffrent side touch her!?

  • Reply Jelly Bean December 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    When I attended this school it was nothing like this ??‍♀️. I don’t know what happened.

    Edit: Also when I left I was in the 5th grade. I was in private school my whole life and my mom decided to put me in public for middle school. I had to take a test at the school board since I was never in public school. I actually scored 10th grade level in math, 8th grade level in English, and 6th grade in social studies and science. I was pretty ahead for the grade I was in.

  • Reply Forever England December 11, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    The content of your character people, not the color of your skin. You’ve be lied to and used

  • Reply Shannon Davidson December 11, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    That mother crying made me cry

  • Reply Collin Milfort December 12, 2019 at 2:37 am


  • Reply Justice Warrior December 12, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Show only black kids…
    Fighting racism with racism is the American way
    Absolutely pathetic

  • Reply Donut President December 13, 2019 at 12:41 am

    These are one of those widows that I don’t LIKE a WHATS happening and agree with it, but I dislike what’s happening so I never know what to choose

  • Reply Yuki r1n December 13, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Y’all sayin they get away with those kids putting in “poor environment” with 720$ school pay

  • Reply angelofdeath275 December 13, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    The US education system is so broken that vultures can just swoop in and take advantage of children….disgusting

  • Reply SNAFU * December 14, 2019 at 12:01 am

    I approve this style of education! Mixing sports mindset with academics

  • Reply Sandy Codfish December 14, 2019 at 4:46 am

    Lil tay has left the chat…

  • Reply Locus Cades December 14, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Regular college is bad enough, and you wanted to take the easy way. You get what you pay for.

  • Reply 민슈가 천재 짱짱 맨 뿡뿡 December 14, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve heard rumors that my school is $4,000,000 in debt and the school sometimes requires students to pay a certain amount of money for stupid little things and it accumulates. Clubs don’t have any money and majority are non-profit and they also require students to pay a crap ton of money; Ranging from $60-120 and sometimes even more. There are terrible teachers who are racist and just overall bad but they’re reluctant to replace them because it’s costly.

  • Reply Scidix Reiznov December 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Hang this couple

  • Reply me jr December 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    A metaphor for society today all hype no substance.

  • Reply Kelly Marie December 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    What no one mentions is that the entrance standards for black applicants at Ivy League universities are significantly lowered so the universities can meet racial quotas.

    Meanwhile, Asians are barred from entry after the schools have enough Asian applicants.
    Entry requirements for Asians are also higher.

    There was a major lawsuit about this issue (brought on by Asian students).

  • Reply Isaac Cuervo December 14, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Hey but they went to college .good ones.. This goes to show that physical punishment IS beneficial..

  • Reply Lil_360potato December 14, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    School In A Whole Warehouse

    Nothing Going On Here

  • Reply Angel 505 December 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    These videos always annoyed me for some reason

  • Reply Question ? December 15, 2019 at 3:15 am

    That school looks like a car dealership RED FLAG

  • Reply Pineley December 15, 2019 at 3:22 am

    If it's to good to be true, it probably is.

  • Reply Christina hale December 15, 2019 at 6:19 am

    I felt this happy when I got accepted into UT

  • Reply Ave Rose December 15, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    ?We all lie?

  • Reply Edan Alexander December 15, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    You can tell that this is fake., I mean come on

  • Reply Aurora Isabella December 15, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    I remember watching those college acceptance videos on Facebook and I’ve always felt suspicious about them. Now I know why…

  • Reply Jodi Ann December 15, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    So they took advantage of kids and parents who just wanted a better life and opportunities for the kids.

  • Reply r1reilly xsw December 15, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    So lil tay wasn’t lying…

  • Reply Olivia PRINCESS December 15, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Wow this is a whole scam and they were JUST blind to it ??

  • Reply Alia Nazihah December 16, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Why am I reminded of Sky Castle? OMG

  • Reply GQTUESDAY December 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Huuuuh this was a scam and I’m sure many people knew of it

  • Reply im so wide December 17, 2019 at 2:53 am

    Google Reviews say this place is permanently closed but I can't find any articles or anything on this place beyond August through October when talks of federal investigation were going on. Can anyone in the local area update us on the school and what happened since then?

  • Reply Molly With a K December 17, 2019 at 3:31 am

    This idolatry of college, getting into the “best school” is exactly why I will be going to whatever college is most affordable for me after scholarships, aid, etc.

  • Reply biggballerboy69 December 17, 2019 at 7:38 am

    So basically they did the same as them white folks right wont you do a story on that. thousands of white people do it every year

  • Reply Tanbone December 18, 2019 at 1:52 am

    You don’t need a college degree to make it

  • Reply Alex Ander December 18, 2019 at 9:52 am

    They dont give af about those kids or education. All they want is money ??????

  • Reply Gio Exploits December 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm


  • Reply cetriya's Art n Comics Channel December 18, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    100% acceptance rate? Emotionally manipulative ads? Yeah sounds fishy

  • Reply Veronica Cordova December 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    So what happened afterwards? Did the accepted kids go to the ivy league schools?

  • Reply xosaniyaa December 18, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    me watching this while eating Popeyes..

  • Reply mumbai street shitter December 19, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I mean BLACKS???
    really ….

    Now ask Asian AMERICANS and Indian AMERICANS (dot not feathers)
    We are the real smart ones

  • Reply Laisa hh December 19, 2019 at 11:02 am


  • Reply Laisa hh December 19, 2019 at 11:06 am

    How aren’t they in prison?

  • Reply Lorenzo Dawkins December 20, 2019 at 2:53 am

    This is good but I need more.

  • Reply Maria Servi December 20, 2019 at 3:04 am

    The theranos of the twenty first century education school system

  • Reply Vladislavs Dovgalecs December 20, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Hello, student debt.

  • Reply Wizz Fizz December 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    So wait let’s say if, but what if a white, Latin or Aisha student tried enroll in the school? Would they except them or

  • Reply bpxl53yewz December 20, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    No books and no teachers? Suspicious right there.

  • Reply bpxl53yewz December 20, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    So they lied on their transcripts and applications – What's the point of getting into a challenging school by lying, when they're not qualified, because they'll just end of failing their classes and struggling. They should look into whether they cheated on SATs/ACTs administration also. Ex. changing their answers, saying a student was special needs and so needed more time when they weren't, ..

  • Reply Rory Vallis December 20, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    OK boomer

  • Reply RRodneYY December 21, 2019 at 1:13 am

    somebody didn’t get accepted into her dream college ?

  • Reply Maria&Tim Elmeier December 21, 2019 at 1:29 am

    No one questioned the 100% rate to start? No adult employees?

  • Reply Hippity Hop December 21, 2019 at 11:23 pm


  • Reply MidnightStorm December 22, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Yes after taking multiple choice questions…..

  • Reply Mclaughlin’s December 22, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    to mom mom please please don’t send me here! PLEASE

  • Reply OldTimey AssWhooper December 22, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    If it seems too good to be true then it is most likely too good to be true.

  • Reply army hobi! December 22, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Shane needs to get on this case

  • Reply Alexander YT December 22, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    “Failure is not a option” But Failure is apart of Success! That’s the first sign of a bad school!

  • Reply Mark Jeong December 23, 2019 at 2:42 am

    the mother's eyebrows look like ^ ^

  • Reply 3 am December 23, 2019 at 3:38 am

    being forced to kneel on rice/rocks/hot concrete is the norm in catholic schools

  • Reply Vincent Tooles December 23, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    It sad because none of the students told thier parents what was going on an happening to them, because most black children fear their parents.

  • Reply Pareeha K December 23, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    american vandal has joined the chat

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