A Newport-Mesa Unified School District administrator has abruptly resigned, lambasting the district for its handling of a cheating scandal at Corona del Mar High School in Costa Mesa.

Jane Garland, a 13-year district employee promoted just this school year to oversee discipline, said in an internal email made public over the weekend that the district's response to the scandal, which led to the expulsion of 11 students, had been a "farce."

The district did not give the students due process, she told the Orange County Register in an interview, but rather picked the "first 12 children named and put them out there to be the poster children of cheating so that they (district officials) could feel they had solved a problem."

"It is scary to me where the district is headed," Garland, 66, said. "They are making people feel good for the sake of PR when children are involved. That is not fair to them."

The district declined to comment on Garland's accusations on grounds that student discipline issues are private.

Garland worked with the 11 students implicated in the cheating scheme and said she believed many of them were led astray by a private tutor accused of helping them hack into school computers. She said she had hoped for a lighter punishment for students whose involvement was minor but said she was ignored when she raised concerns over the expulsions recommended by the school's principal.

The district's board on Jan. 28 approved the discipline for the 11 students. The students were ordered to leave Corona del Mar High School last week, though six of them had already left voluntarily.

The tutor, Timothy Lance Lai, has disappeared and is being sought by Newport Beach police.

"We could have gotten Tim Lai, but the children were left behind to take the blame for this," Garland told the Register. "The man was a predator to them. The children were not the underlying problem, the tutor was."

Garland said the students had varying levels of involvement, ranging from breaking into the school to merely knowing about the hacking scheme.