The sweeping criminal case against 34 former Atlanta educators accused of cheating plowed ahead Friday, with a trial scheduled for next spring despite last month’s acquittal of one defendant on a related witness-tampering charge.
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Timeline of Atlanta cheating scandal
The AJC first investigated improbable improvements on standardized tests in 2008 and conducted a computer analysis of schools with unusual changes in test scores in 2009. The AJC has followed the story as state education officials and a special prosecutor investigated suspicious test scores.
A state analysis flags 58 Atlanta schools for excessive erasures and orders APS to investigate. The AJC’s continuing investigation reports that the gains in test scores and graduation rates claimed by then Superintendent Beverly Hall are illusions. In the summer, the district’s appointed commission finds that widespread cheating was limited to 12 schools. Gov. Sonny Perdue orders his own investigation. Hall announces that she will retire the following summer.
State investigators gather evidence, interviewing scores of APS teachers, administrators and staff. In July, Perdue’s successor, Gov. Nathan Deal, releases the results — an 800-page report saying that 185 teachers and administrators cheated on the CRCT at 44 schools. Erroll Davis, a former chancellor of the University System of Georgia, takes over as superintendent.
APS officials tell implicated educators they have one day to resign or face firing. In March, APS begins holding disciplinary tribunals for those accused of cheating who wanted to appeal their dismissals.
Of the 185 people implicated in the state investigative report, 23 educators have been reinstated and two people are still awaiting tribunal appeals. The rest resigned, retired or lost appeals. Hall and 34 others are indicted on charges of racketeering, theft by taking, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and false statements. Former regional director Tamara Cotman, requests a speedy trial and is found not guilty Sept. 6 of influencing a witness. She still faces conspiracy charges.