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More than a Dozen East Atlanta Area Educators Indicted in APS Test Cheating Scandal

Beverly Hall, the former Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, is the top ranking official facing racketeering charges.

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.

See also:

State Investigation Shows 44 Public Schools In Atlanta Cheated On CRCT 

Report: 13 Principals Retire Or Resign From Atlanta Public Schools 

 


kaseyH March 30, 2013 at 01:37 AM
OMG. Poor Jaime Escalante must be spinning in his grave over this one. If you haven't seen the movie "Stand And Deliver" then now is a good time. Gone are the days when kids were actually expected to learn things. How sad.
Charlene Ball March 30, 2013 at 02:02 PM
I wonder whether this has anything to do with standardized testing?
Chris Anderson March 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Waiting for Superman, is an amazing documentary about America's failing public school system. It's on netflix. Good movie for anyone interested in WHY America's school system is so messed up.
Kumu Gordon March 31, 2013 at 06:59 PM
GrantParkguy: Waiting for Superman focused on children whose "parents" worked very hard to get them into select schools. Of course once accepted, these parents would make sure their child adhered to to classroom expectations and did their homework. The movie did not depict children who did not have parental support or parent drive (to get a good education). Thus, those children and participating schools showed successful gains. Parents who value education and are involved play a major role in their child's academic progress and school's success. NCLB needs to be tossed out. National standardized testing needs to return. And, stop paying schools and education employees bonuses if they raise their test scores. Just pay educators a decent, surviving income and give the profession the respect it deserves.
Chris Anderson April 01, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Kuna: you are somewhat correct, but it's main focus is how the teachers union are a key stumbling block in reforming American education. Uniions have proposed no real constructive reforms of their own except for the tired old “We need more money” mantra. The average teacher salary in Georgia is $52,815 with a starting salary of 33,673. And you get summers off. So to say its not a surviving income shows that either A) you don't care about the kids and only teacher income B) your out of touch with working America
Kumu Gordon April 01, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Grant: My point was the movie featured only children whose parents wanted them to get a good education; I understand the focus of the documentary. I am a very recently retired educator who gave many years of dedicated service to children both in and outside of school. One of the reasons I left is because I refuse to teach to the test and because too much of our school day was directed towards test prep and testing. Gone are the time slots once given to the Arts and curriculum which helped to develop creativity, problem solving skills and critical thinking. Perhaps you have education background and have had different experiences in the field and with the unions; I have had positive experiences, yet I took a mandatory pay cut and haven't had a raise in four years. Even though I am at the top of the pay scale for my years of service my household income stretches over medical conditions and raising two grandchildren. I am in touch with working America more than you know and serve many volunteer hours tutoring children who live too far outside of the school community to take advantage of after school support classes. Another documentary I found interesting to watch was American Teacher, perhaps you may or may not be familiar with some of the struggles they have.
Chris Murphy April 01, 2013 at 01:03 PM
GA doesn't have teachers' unions. Most teachers "summers off" consist of continuing education. 50 grand is decent money, but if you divided it by hours worked (and there is no overtime rate for them), it would not be a rate for a professional position. That many or most of working America has seen its pay and benefits corrode is no reason to do the same to teachers. Their compensation is not high enough to protest about. The administrators? That's another matter.
Jennifer Keley April 01, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I resent the title of this article. It makes it sound like the teachers that are being indicted are teachers in East Atlanta's school, Burgess Peterson. Since they are not, and Burgess was not involved, I see this as bad press for our school. I wish the author had been more considerate.
Space Ship April 01, 2013 at 06:07 PM
One more vote for private or charter schools in Atlanta. This city's public education system has been sad at best, and horrible at it's worst. I'm tired of hearing people here talk as if they have the equivalent of a 2nd grade education (many of them actually do) and the serious lack of emphasis on the importance of education. We live in the South, but this is not the 1920s. Get it together, Atlanta. Our children will be surpassed not only by the Chinese and the Indian, but children being educated in neighboring states who actually give a flip about their kids' competitiveness in the real world. The only lesson we are teaching them here is how to apply for entitlement programs.
Space Ship April 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM
It's time to eliminate the "No Child Left Behind" Act.
CDML75 April 03, 2013 at 01:01 AM
I believe that this a way for APS to move a lot of their top teachers that have doctor degrees out. They made money by their degrees & not from the changing answers on test. What the APS is not telling is what % of school produced the most of erasing parties. That the teachers who did admit to erasing the students answers on the CRCT is still teaching in the classroom. They never came out of the classroom & no criminal actions. The ones that didn't do it they took them out and now are being crucified. We as a people need to ask for more proof on allegations instead of listening to what is being given to us. If Paul Howard really had solid proof he wouldn't have a hotline out. Lol. An these parents on tv should need speech classes before talking. The parent of the teenager wanted to know why is my child passing on test and not reading on her grade level? It's so simple. Ask yourself! Have I set in my child classroom to see what she's doing & what is the teacher doing for my child in learning? Have I attended PTA meetings? Do I volunteer at the school? Parents it's not all of the teachers responsibility to make sure your child is taught. You as a parent can have your child read nightly instead of playing or chilling. Do 10 math problems a night. Before pointing fingers research first. This is how Brian Nichols lost it by being accused of the same crime twice but not found guilty the first time.
Space Ship April 03, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Brian Nichols "lost it" because he is a thug, a loose cannon and a mental case. Not because of some ill-perceived interpretation of being "disrespected". While I grant you the justice system failed twice, both to protect the public and to do its due diligence in prosecuting him for his crimes, it does not justify his actions and you are comparing (grossly I might add) apples and oranges to draw your analogy. To draw such a conclusion is rather obtuse, on your part, and an insult to the people he killed.
People are Crazy April 03, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Agreed. It has never worked. It was the shuffle children through school uneducated instead.
People are Crazy April 03, 2013 at 06:08 AM
We will see since they have been indicted. The EVIDENCE will be presented at trial and we will find out if your outrageous theory stands up.

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