Cheating Scandal Brings Preliminary Reforms To Atlanta Schools

July 8, 2011

By Phil Gast CNN

ATLANTA (CNN) — Atlanta’s schools will flag suspicious test scores and achieve a culture of integrity in the wake of a cheating scandal that could lead to criminal charges against some principals and teachers, officials vowed Thursday.

Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. received school board approval to mandate ethics training for employees and provide remedial help to perhaps thousands of Atlanta Public Schools students who may have improperly advanced because of the cheating.

“We will have a more open, transparent and empowering culture,” said Davis.

In a bid to increase stability as it seeks to overcome the scandal and receive full reaccreditation, the board extended Davis’ contract through June 2012. Davis recently retired as chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

Dozens of Atlanta public school educators falsified standardized tests or failed to address such misconduct in their schools, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday in unveiling the results of a state investigation that confirmed widespread cheating in city schools dating as far back as 2001.


Investigators said 178 teachers and principals working at 44 schools were involved in the cheating scandal. The educators, including 38 principals, were either directly involved in erasing wrong answers on a key standardized test or they knew — or should have known — what was going on, according to the governor’s office.


Deal’s office said 82 of the educators acknowledged involvement, according to the report. Six principals declined to answer investigators’ questions and invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Deal said.


Davis told reporters he expects to move forward on the first personnel actions on Monday. Punishment could include termination or reassignment away from the classroom. He provided no further details.


The investigation’s findings have been forwarded to the state teacher licensing board, Deal said. That agency could take disciplinary action against the educators involved. Whether to bring criminal charges will be up to prosecutors, Deal said.


Board members said it was important to remember that many Atlanta teachers did their jobs well.


The system’s former superintendent on Wednesday denied she knew of any widespread falsification by educators of student test results.

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