Patricia Wells testified Friday that her own students explained why they had scored well on standardized tests at their elementary schools but were not performing well in her middle school: Cheating had been going on.
Wells, the former principal of Benjamin Carson Middle School, said that explained a lot.
“I had kids who could not read,” she testified. “They could not multiply. They were not proficient in any area.”
Wells testified that she told her immediate supervisor, Atlanta Public Schools regional director Tamara Cotman, about it.
Cotman’s response, Wells said, was, “Did I have any proof?” She noted that Cotman did not ask to talk to the students, did not ask what schools they came from, and launched no investigation.
The next year, Cotman put her on a performance development plan and later demoted her. “I was just destroyed,” Wells testified.
Wells was one of several witnesses called by Fulton County prosecutors, who are attempting to show that Cotman punished, demoted or fired those who voiced complaints about test-cheating or questioned her judgment.
Cotman is on trial for a single felony count: influencing a witness, Jimmye Hawkins. Prosecutors say Cotman removed Hawkins as interim principal of Scott Elementary School because Hawkins had disclosed that Cotman allegedly directed principals to write “go to hell” memos to GBI agents investigating allegations of test cheating.
Prosecutors expect to rest their case Tuesday.