More than a dozen East Atlanta area educators were among 35 former school system employees indicted Friday for taking part in a systematic effort to rig the results of the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).
The charges include racketeering and making false statements. [The full text of the indictment is in the PDF to the right of this article.] The East Atlanta Patch educators indicted include:
- Chris Waller - Former Parks Middle School Principal
- Gregory Reid - Assistant Principal at Parks Middle School
- Sandra Ward - Success For All coordinator at Parks Middle School
- Starlette Mitchell - Former teacher at Parks Middle School
- Kimberly Oden - Former Parks Middle School Teacher
- Lera Middlebrooks - Testing Coordinator at Dunbar Elementary School
- Shani Robinson - Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary School
- Pamela Cleveland - Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary School
- Diane Buckner-Webb - Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary School
- Gloria Ivey - Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary
- Theresia Copeland - Former Benteen Elementary School testing coordinator
- Sheila Evans - Former teacher at Benteen Elementary
- Willie Davenport - Former D.H. Stanton Principal
- Francis Mack - Testing Coordinator at D.H. Stanton Elementary School
State officials have argued that one of the worst effects of the inflated test scores was that many children who needed extra tutoring were denied services because their parents were told they were performing well in school. "The whole purpose behind this is to vindicate the little children who got gypped out of an education," said former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, who led the state's investigation.
Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Beverly Hall, is the top-ranking official to be charged. The Atanta Journal-Constitution reports that the charges against Hall are so serious that officials plan to seek a bond of $7.5 million.
District Attorney, Paul Howard said the grand jury returned a total of 65 counts against 35 defendants. APS officials named in the indictment include 13 teachers, 1 secretary, 6 principals, 7 testing coordinators, 2 assistant principals, and 5 top administrators.
The others facing charges are:
Millicent Few - Former Chief Human Resource Officer
Michael Pitts - SRT-2 Executive Director
Sharon Davis-Williams - SRT-1 Executive Director
Tamara Cotman - SRT-4 Executive Director
Sheridan Rogers - Former testing coordinator at Gideons Elementary
Dana Evans - Former Principal of Dobbs Elementary
Angela Williamson - Former teacher at Dobbs Elementary School
Derrick Broadwater - Former teacher at Dobbs Elementary
Shayla Smith - Former teacher at Dobbs Elementary
Dessa Curb - Special Education Teacher at Dobbs Elementary
Lisa Terry - Former teacher at Humphries Elementary School
Ingrid Abella-Sly - Former teacher at Humphries Elementary School
Wendy Ahmed - Former teacher at at Humphries Elementary School
Carol Dennis - Former secretary at Kennedy Middle
Tameka Goodson - Former Instructional Coach at Kennedy Middle
Armstead Salters - Former teacher at Gideons Elementary School
Lucious Brown - Former Principal of Kennedy Middle School
Tabeeka Jordan - Former Deerwood Elementary School Assistant Principal
Clarietta Davis - Former principal at Venetian Hills Elementary
Donald Bullock - Former testing coordinator at Usher Elementary School
The AJC did the initial investigation that revealed questionable spikes in test scores at many Atlanta schools. State investigators looked into the issue after the school system conducted an investigation - led by Hall - that failed to find any wrongdoing. The AJC said state officials found "a decade of systemic cheating in Atlanta Public Schools and concluded that former Superintendent Beverly Hall knew or should have known about it."
Before the indictments were announced, APS officials said the school system would not help to pay to defend anybody charged in the test cheating scandal.
Current superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. released a letter to the public Friday saying the school system is ready to put the "troubling episode behind us." He continued:
Our official role is to allow the legal process to run its course. We have an obligation to treat any indictment as a legal matter between the individuals implicated and the DA’s office.
At the same time, we will maintain the expectation that all employees conform to the highest ethical standards established in APS. Over the past two years, we have taken action to renew our organization’s collective commitment to students, parents, employees, partners and community members. From requiring all employees to complete annual ethics training as a condition of employment to strengthening safeguards on test materials, we have done considerable work both to prevent and to punish cheating.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed released the following statement:
"The allegations in the indictment against former Atlanta Public School Superintendent Beverly Hall and other administrators and teachers are painful to read," said Mayor Kasim Reed. "This has been a very difficult process for our city's public schools. But right now, we need to allow the judicial process to proceed and focus on what matters most --- the young people in our city's classrooms who deserve a quality education and the unwavering support of their teachers and administrators. As a city, we will get through this challenge and continue the vital business of educating our children so they can grow up to be confident, responsible and productive members of our city and nation."
What do you think of the news that 35 former school system employees face criminal charges? Tell us in the comments area below.
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