The Air Force Academy is investigating whether about 40 freshman cadets cheated in a chemistry class last month, the academy said Monday.
The incident involved portions of a lab report that may have been copied and not documented, the academy said in a statement. The assignment is worth 50 points out of the 3,000 for the class.
"We are sorely disappointed in this extremely small segment of our 4,000-plus cadet population," Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said in a news release. "While we believe that the young men and women here will be forged - and forge themselves - into leaders of character for our Air Force and the Nation, we also realize that not every one of our 4,000-plus cadets will meet the high standards we expect of them and we will hold them accountable when they fail to live up to those high standards in accordance with the Academy Honor Code."
It is the fourth probe of cheating involving a group of cadets at the school since 2004, including a 2012 incident that left 78 cadets under suspicion.
Spokesman David Cannon said about 500 freshmen are taking the Chemistry 100 class involved in the latest incident.
Cheating is forbidden by the academy's honor code, which also bans lying and stealing.
In 60 years since the academy's founding, cheating has been the honor code's biggest nemesis, especially cheating by freshmen.
First-year cadets were tied to cheating incidents in 2004 and 2007.
Incidents are investigated by a cadet-run honor board, which determines whether the code has been broken.
Cadets who break the code can be kicked out of the academy. But freshmen, in general, see more leniency under current rules.
Cannon said freshmen no longer face mandatory expulsion and can instead be placed on honor probation.
First-time offenders who admit wrongdoing get a one-time chance to stay at the academy if they undergo a months-long program aimed at improving their morality.
"To complete the program, cadets must successfully accomplish daily ethical journals, honor projects, a calendar and unit briefings and must receive positive recommendations from his mentors and commanders," the academy says on its website.
Cadets on honor probation are generally confined to campus and assigned extra duty, including miles of marching.