The prosecution in the Atlanta schools test-cheating case faces a possible setback this week that could be devastating and self-inflicted – a prospect that has veteran lawyers and parents shaking their heads in bewilderment and frustration.
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Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, many of the accused educators have already lost their jobs and teaching certifications.
Atlanta Public Schools held tribunals to fire educators after a 2011 state investigative report named 178 teachers and administrators as being involved in cheating.
Their cases were also forwarded to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which recommended that their certifications be revoked or suspended in all but a handful of cases.
While the criminal and PSC processes are separate, evidence from criminal cases could be relevant, said Paul Shaw, the commission’s director of educator ethics.
“Should the criminal courts find the defendants not guilty it may impact the eventual outcome of a PSC case; likewise, a conviction or plea bargain would also influence the eventual outcome of the case,” Shaw said.
Of 185 Atlanta cases brought to the commission, it has recommended that 109 educators have their certificates suspended and that 44 have their certificates revoked. Many of those cases are being appealed.
The commission found no probable cause in six cases, and 26 cases haven’t yet been considered by the commission.
About 114 educators resigned or retired from Atlanta Public Schools, and 38 were terminated or didn’t have their contracts renewed. Twenty-one educators were reinstated, and three cases are still pending.