3 dozen indicted in Atlanta cheating scandal
ATLANTA — The former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools and nearly three dozen other administrators, teachers, principals and other educators were indicted on Friday in one of the nation's largest cheating scandals.
Former Superintendent Beverly Hall faces charges including racketeering, false statements and theft. She retired just days before a state probe was released in 2011 and has previously denied the allegations. The indictment represents the first criminal charges in the investigation.
The previous state investigation in 2011 found cheating by nearly 180 educators in 44 Atlanta schools. Educators gave answers to students or changed answers on tests after they were turned in, investigators said. Teachers who tried to report it faced retaliation, creating a culture of “fear and intimidation” in the district.
The cheating came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.
The criminal investigation lasted 21 months, and the allegations date back to 2005. In addition to Hall, 34 people were indicted, including four high-level administrators, six principals and 14 teachers.
During a news conference Friday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard provided examples of two students who demonstrated “the plight of many children” in the school system. He described one girl, a third-grader, who failed a benchmark exam and received the worst score in her reading class in 2006. The girl was held back, yet when she took a separate assessment test not long after, she passed with flying colors.
Howard said the girl's mother, Justina Collins, knew something was awry, but was told by school officials that the child simply was a good test-taker. The girl is now in ninth grade, reading at a fifth-grade level.
“I have a 15-year-old now who is behind in achieving her goal of becoming what she wants to be when she graduates. It's been hard trying to help her catch up,” Collins said.
Most of the 178 educators named in the special investigators' report in 2011 resigned, retired, did not have their contracts renewed or appealed their dismissals and lost. Twenty-one educators have been reinstated, and three await hearings to appeal their dismissals, said Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Stephen Alford.
The tests were the key measure the state used to determine whether it met the federal No Child Left Behind law. Schools with good test scores receive extra federal dollars to spend in the classroom or on teacher bonuses.
State schools Superintendent John Barge said last year that he believes the state's new accountability system will remove the pressure to cheat on standardized tests because it won't be the sole way the state determines student growth. The pressure was part of what some educators in Atlanta Public Schools blamed for their cheating.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Even before Ebola contained, U.S. looks to next health crisis
- E-cigarettes cut cravings, study finds
- Graham rejects GOP Benghazi report as ‘garbage’
- Ohio dairy farmers cashing in on gas well boom
- Obama defends executive action on illegals
- 32 horses killed in stable fire near Chicago
- Boy with fake gun shot by officer dies
- Tension, anxiety mount in Ferguson as grand jury ruling awaited
- Report: College judicial boards work secretively
- Letter that inspired Beat poet Kerouac discovered