Husband of Deerwood Academy principal: Travesty of justice

The husband of the Deerwood Academy principal reprimanded earlier this month by the state Professional Standards Commission over alleged CRCT cheating at the school and then removed from her post by Atlanta Public Schools pending her appeal wrote this letter on her behalf. Michael Smith sent this protest to a long list of recipients, including the U.S. Secretary of Education.

December 16, 2009

In the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, a travesty has occurred against a phenomenal educator that has dedicated her life to educating children for the last twenty years. I am most assured that this will reach national headlines because if this can happen to my wife without justification, it can certainly happen to principals/administrators across the United States. My wife, Lisa Smith, is in the midst of battling this dilemma legally and cannot give voice to this racially motivated unjust attack against her character and ethical behavior. I however am not silenced and am seeking your support and guidance on how to swiftly right this wrong. I am writing to lodge a formal complaint against the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GPSC) and its Ethics Committee and to request your assistance with restoring my wife’s name publicly as the distinguished educator she has been for two decades. I have copied various people who need to hear “a husband’s plea” for justice in hopes that my communication falls in the appropriate hands that will take action. I have also copied those who were key players in this unfathomable destruction of a school, a school community, and a school leader.

On Thursday, December 10, 2009, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GPSC) voted to suspend my wife’s licensure for one year because she was the principal of an elementary school where cheating on a statewide summer retest allegedly occurred. She will of course appeal this decision but I wanted to share with you the injustice surrounding this abuse of power that has become the common practice of the Georgia Professional Standards Ethics Committee and the Commission. They are not bothering to review the facts of these cases. They are ruining lives and making decisions in a cavalier manner. I am requesting that an investigation or audit be conducted to ensure that these people that sit on the Professional Standards Commission and Ethics Committee are operating above board and issuing sanctions against educators in a fair and just manner.

I am also requesting that you investigate the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in the biased way in which they investigated four schools over the past year. All of the schools have a predominantly minority population and the leadership within the schools are African American. Even more unforgivable was the lack of thoroughness in which the investigation was conducted. For example, Ms. Kathleen Mathers, Director, and her team never interviewed the principal that was assigned by Atlanta Public Schools to be over the summer school program at Deerwood Academy. Further, the Erasure Analysis reports that were completed and posted on the GOSA website show only the number of erasures that resulted in answers changed from wrong to right. Never was a report provided that showed wrong to wrong or right to wrong data. This information would have mostly likely revealed that the wrong to right analysis was not as compelling as they made it out to be. Additionally, the GOSA shared reports of the next years’ testing data for the students who supposedly matriculated to the sixth grade. It was not inclusive of the total population of students from the fifth grade at Deerwood Academy (less than half of the Deerwood student population that took the summer retest and moved on to sixth grade remained within the Atlanta Public Schools or the in state). Yet, the report indicated that a low percentage of students met or exceeded on the following year’s exam (a mere 41%). The information was deliberately misleading to the public to support the racially motivated agenda of this office. This was a highly political attack with an agenda of discrediting the Atlanta Public Schools System because of its recent positive gains in student achievement. My wife cannot and will not become a casualty of this political warfare.

In May 2009, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) visited my wife’s school, Deerwood Academy in Atlanta Public Schools System to conduct interviews with all staff that worked during the testing week of summer 2008. The Director of the GOSA, Ms. Mathers, headed up the investigation with a team of three, inclusive of Mr. John Grant, Professional Standards Commission Investigator. According to my wife, it was evident that when they conducted these interviews, they had come with a preconceived notion of an adult making changes to students’ test answer documents. She shared how during her interview, she was spoken to in accusatory tones, was mistreated during their line of questioning, and felt as though there was really little interest in the truth. Ms. Mathers informed her that due to a large number of erasures on 11 students’ answer documents, they believed that an adult had made these changes. My wife was in utter disbelief by the accusations and shared with the interview panel that she was not on the school site during testing and therefore could not validate these claims. She informed the team that another principal that was assigned might be better able to discuss testing week.

In June 2009, GOSA released a report indicating that Deerwood Academy had been one of four schools to be investigated for test tampering. My wife pined over this situation all summer long. It was very difficult for her to piece together what could have possibly happened during the summer school re-test because although she is the principal of Deerwood Academy, she was not the principal of record in charge of the summer school in 2008. She was not on the school premises during the testing period nor was she in town. She was on vacation with me tending to our son, who was a freshman at the time and had to be taken to Savannah State University for entry exams in Savannah, Georgia. My wife has the documented approved leave that was signed off by her superior.

In July 2009, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Dr. Beverly Hall spoke out in defense of the school. She was aware of Deerwood Academy being the facility where summer school was housed with another principal being the principal of record. My wife was not responsible for the summer school during the 2008 school year. Georgia’s Governor, Sonny Perdue, responded in a combative manner on the news about Dr. Hall because of her statement in defense of Deerwood Academy. He called her “outrageous”. It created a barrage of news media coverage and interest on this alleged testing scandal.

In July 2009, GOSA recommended to the State Board of Education that the results of the Deerwood Academy summer re-test be thrown out because of the suspicion of test tampering. The State Dept. of Education voted unanimously to do just that. The hard work of the children was discarded based on one woman’s assumptions and not on hard evidence of cheating. We give children pencils with erasures to erase on tests when they need to change an answer. Now to erase has become a reason to throw out the work of children. This is disgraceful. Kathleen Mathers then lodged a complaint to the Professional Standards Commission against my wife charging her with being the principal of an elementary school where test tampering occurred. She had no choice but to retain counsel, Attorney Warren Fortson, to fight this charge.

The Professional Standards Commission used Mr. John Grant as the chief investigator, the same gentleman that conducted the preliminary interviews at Deerwood Academy in May 2009. The only additional investigative request that he made through my wife’s lawyer was for her to have finger prints released to him. She agreed to the request because she knew that she had not performed such a heinous act as to tamper with students’ tests. Even with this evidence on hand that would have totally exonerated my wife, the PSC never bothered to consider the investigator’s report.

The Professional Standard Commission Ethics Committee met on December 9, 2009. My wife’s attorney attended the meeting session as well. Without reviewing the findings of Mr. Grants’ report, the Ethics Committee recommended a year’s suspension for all administrators of the schools where alleged test tampering took place. They were more interested in exercising consistency in delving out punishment than in assigning or not assigning sanctions based on the truth. On the following day, December 10, 2009, the Commission approved these recommendations without discussion.

My wife, Lisa Smith, has been wrongly accused and unjustly treated. The Atlanta Journal Constitution Newspaper has done numerous stories on this “testing scandal” and has made her out to be a villain. They were irresponsible in their reporting because of the many inaccuracies. My wife has spent twenty years in the field of education with an unblemished record and continues to lead with integrity. She has devoted her life to educating children. She has had a career of exemplars. The callous way in which they have soiled her name and reputation is without warrant. Her charge of being the principal of the elementary school where alleged test tampering took place is unprecedented in the state of Georgia. There have been numerous cases in the state of Georgia where test tampering has occurred and none of these principals have been subjected to this level of scrutiny and punishment, especially those who were on documented vacation and directed by superiors to allow the use of his/her building for a summer school program. The summer school program was housed at Deerwood Academy but was run by another principal in Atlanta Public Schools. The failure to thoroughly investigate this matter and interview all pertinent people involved, ie the principal of record from the summer school, by the Georgia GOSA, State Board of Education, PSC, and the Ethics Commission, is the greatest travesty of all. My wife has been punished for having her name on the bricks and mortar in which this summer program was held. This has taken the racial progress of the South back to Jim Crow practices.

This is an attempt to help my wife get her good name and reputation back. I am counting on you to help right this wrong so that other educators that may find themselves in this predicament in the future will not have to endure the pain and suffering that she has endured. I ask you, is this the democratic way? Is this justice? Please Mr. Duncan, become as outraged by this racially motivated injustice as I am.

Respectfully Yours,

Mr. Michael Smith

CC: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Nan Orrock, GA Senator (Atlanta)
Thurbert Baker, Georgia Attorney General
Sonny Perdue, Georgia Governor
Kathleen Mathers, Director of GOSA
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent
GA State Education Board Members
Gary Walker, Director of PSC
Penny Bento, PSC Member
Julia Bernath, PSC Member
Sallie Bullock, PSC Member
Stephen Dartt, PSC Member
Albert George, PSC Member
Joy Hawkins, PSC Member
Stephanie Haynes, PSC Member
Emily Jenette, PSC Member
Dr. Craig Smith, PSC Member
Dr. Ed Smith, PSC Member
Jeannie Tucker, PSC Member
Gary Walker, Ethics Committee Director

60 comments Add your comment

This is a travesty

December 21st, 2009
5:47 am

Wow! I am grateful for this letter. Thank you Maureen for posting this. It clears up a lot of questions. I really hope that this principal sues the pants off of these top governing bodies. Guilty until proven innocent was the belief all summer and fall. I am ashamed of what has happened to our educational systems. We were led to believe that this principal did the unspeakable. This is truly a travesty. The community should be outraged with how the media responded as well. What about the Assistant principal whose door Richard Belcher went to. Maureen, do you know if the Governor has responded? Why wasn’t the additional data of erasure analysis included? I think this is compelling information as well. The 41% was not the percentage of the entire group that took the re-test in 2008? How misleading!!!!


December 21st, 2009
6:11 am

This community should be outraged. Has Sonny responded? He really did not need this negative publicity. Oh these Republicans are out of control!

Great Letter

December 21st, 2009
6:15 am

Thank you for sharing this Maureen. It answers a lot of unanswered questions. I think Deerwood got caught up in this mess and should not have been a part of the scandal. I read the erasure analysis and it doesn’t make sense to me that this school was even included. The 3.5 standard deviation alone did not make them an extreme outlier. The erasures for this school was 55% changed from wrong to right. So, almost half were changed from wrong to wrong. The erasures could have been made by children. GOSA was after APS and used Deerwood to get there!


December 21st, 2009
6:16 am

“SALF-gate? 49,000 Questions for Arne Duncan,” Cincinnati Beacon, 12/17/09:

The Blinders Are Off!

December 21st, 2009
6:22 am

GOSA, PSC, Kathy Cox and the gang are now exposed. It must have been really hard not being able to speak about this. I worked for APS I know that this principal was directed to say nothing to the community and the media. I hope that Arne Duncan conducts a thorough investigation of it all. The state of Georgia did not need this kind of news regarding its public schools. The report is one-sided and misleading. Ms. Mathers should be severely punished. How did Trump say it best-You’re Fired!

National News

December 21st, 2009
6:30 am

This needs to make national headlines. Smith needs to go all the way to the Supreme Court for all administrators now and soon to be. This is utterly ridiculous at best. This would never happen to school in buckhead only Southwest Atlanta. I am not surprised. The Dekalb County principal and ap made it bad for everyone. Mathers did not bother to get at the truth because she had already found a guilty administrator. All black people are not alike Ms. Mathers. This never made good sense to me. Now I see why.

National News

December 21st, 2009
6:32 am

This will make national headlines. Smith needs to go all the way to the Supreme Court for all administrators now and soon to be. This is utterly ridiculous at best. This would never happen to school in buckhead only Southwest Atlanta. I am not surprised. The Dekalb County principal and ap made it bad for everyone. Mathers did not bother to get at the truth because she had already found a guilty administrator. All black people are not alike Ms. Mathers. This never made good sense to me. Now I see why.


December 21st, 2009
8:16 am

This is a great letter. It still doesn’t make sense to me that the principal who was actually in charge during the summer session remains unnamed and apparently unscathed by this entire incident. What’s up with that?

Get Real

December 21st, 2009
8:32 am

The 3.5 standard deviation alone did not make them an extreme outlier.

Great Letter, it is clear you haven’t studied statistics. An I.Q. that is 3.5 standard deviations from the mean puts you in the company of Albert Einstein. Most reasonable people would call that an extreme outlier.

You are on to something

December 21st, 2009
8:51 am

I agree with ScienceTeacher671-who is this person and why is he/she not uncovered. This is beginning to be a mystery. This really is a great letter that answers a lot of questions. Get Real, in one of Ms. Mathers articles over the summer, she herself said that 3.5 standard deviation gains are not to lofty if students had one on one direct instruction. Wasn’t Deerwood a Teach For America site that summer? I think I read somewhere that the Deerwood students were deliberately placed in TFA classrooms with a 5:12 adult to student ratio. Could that explain the gains for these students and not the others? Anyway, whatever the outcome, I think it is a good idea for the US Secretary of Education to look into it all, including the new 12 schools under scrutiny. The public needs answers. I do however think that this principal got a raw deal. It makes us all wonder if it is worth even trying to be a principal.

Good ole Boy or should I say Sonny Boy

December 21st, 2009
8:56 am

Wow! This is shameful. This letter should have gone to the local chapter of the NAACP. I forwarded it to them on this husband’s behalf. Just doing my civic duty. Really, this is a cat fight between Beverly Hall and Sonny Perdue. This principal, school, and community are just caught in crossfire. Very soon no one will care about what happens to this community because they do not have capital power. Just being honest. Do you really think that they were not carefully selected? Mathers followed her marching orders.


December 21st, 2009
9:00 am

Just from the “context clues” we’ve been given, I’m guessing that Dr. Lisa Smith is African-American, and the principal who was actually in charge was white – was this person also male?

P.S. Marlene, when you get time, you might want to check the filters….

Outraged in the Jewish Community

December 21st, 2009
9:00 am

If it can happen in this community, it can happen in mine. I am outraged for this community. What can we do as the greater public about this?


December 21st, 2009
9:02 am

Enter your comments here

Super Letter

December 21st, 2009
9:09 am

This letter reads like a saga. My goodness. I cannot believe what has been happening to this school and community. What in the world? Has this principal had a nervous breakdown yet? I would be surprised to hear that she hasn’t. The great American dream is to see you child off to college. She is being held responsible for this mess because others are under the impression that she should have been at a school site instead of being with her child? This is unbelievable. Was this really about children? Did anyone interview the 11 children to ask if they had actually erased themselves? To hear that only 55% of the changes became correct sounds odd to me. Was the alleged adult that made the changes dumb? It seems to me he/she would have gotten 100% correct if they were really cheating. What a great farse. GOSA should be ashamed. The district, principal, ap, and greater school community need to fight with everything that they have. Unbelievable!!!!!!!


December 21st, 2009
9:12 am

If anyone has ever met Lisa’s husband, you will know that he is not capable of writing this letter. He is an uneducated electrician who dresses like a pimp! Great Letter Lisa (even though your voice has to be silenced) HAHA!

President Obama and Arne Duncan

December 21st, 2009
9:17 am

They both need in on this one. These governing bodies are bullies and destroying the very fabric of our educational system. I work for a charter school and hear that the PSC is trying to make it a requirement for teachers that work at charters to certify through them. No way. They control too much and are a bunch of idiots. Charter teachers are not governed by these idiots. They are tarnishing good teachers’ certification histories and make it impossible to remove issues. We have good teachers at my charter that tell nightmare stories about their experience with the PSC. They are just ruining lives and the futures of our children.


December 21st, 2009
9:21 am

This is exactly why nothing will be done for this community. CeeJay is shining example of ignorance. Who cares about her husband’s dress code. We care about getting at the truth. My child attends West Manor and I do not want to see this happen again. You are a fool for not understanding the greater picture. Drop dead and bury yourself!


December 21st, 2009
9:22 am

Okay, we get it. The same government who enacted a bad law cannot get the facts straight on who to blame when crap happens.

What the heck did you folks expect?

BTW, I hear they secured the 60th vote on the health care legislation. You think NCLB was farce, just wait.

OK now I know we are dealing with black people

December 21st, 2009
9:28 am

Maureen please change the blog. Cee Jay’s entry just let us all know that it is not worth wasting our time over this. She or he has turned this into a personal war with the principal instead of a NCLB travesty. The community gets what it gets. Cee Jay thinks that black children cannot perform at these levels nor can men write decent letters. Even if the principal helped to write this letter, what does that matter? The information is out for everyone to ponder. What an idiot!


December 21st, 2009
9:32 am

Who was the principal over summer school?

Vicious Truth

December 21st, 2009
9:52 am

There seems to be a cover up here. First, you have ask why the name of the administrator in charge of the summer program is not being revealed. Second, why doesn’t Beverly Hall come to Principal Smith’s defense and not just the school?

Answer: The summer program principal is somehow related to the Area Superintendent or the Superintendent. Ms. Smith doesn’t want to ruin her prospects of getting another job with APS so she’s keeping quiet.

Also, race has nothing to do with this.


December 21st, 2009
9:55 am

One has to wonder why the AJC reporters were unable (perhaps unwilling) to dig a little deeper to expose the points brought out in the letter. Did it not occur to the reporters to dig a little deeper about the erasures? I have tested students in the past who’ve literally erased holes in the answer document!

It is also no coincidence that this happened prior to Christmas break. The powers-that-be are hoping the dust will have settled by the re-start of school in 2010. Attention spans tend to be very short and if they wait out the initial storm, all will be forgotten by parents by Jan.1

The tactics of the PSC are not new. In the words of a former Educational Law professor, “If the PSC comes knocking, you don’t have a chance.” Georgia teachers do not have a union and I suspect this is one example of why the politicians have made sure a teacher’s union in GA is illegal. A teacher’s union would have roasted the Governor, the Superintendent and the PSC alive.


December 21st, 2009
10:10 am

Ah, the Race Card……ain’t it a wonderful thing to be able to use it whenever the need arises. This incident happened under her watch and therefore, she is responsible. Whether she actually changed any of the answers is not germaine……she knew, or should have known about it. Kick her out, take away her professional license…..we don’t need people like this in charge of children.


December 21st, 2009
10:17 am

Now can everyone acknowledge that there is a bunch of crap going on in Georgia’s education system? I have the feeling that if there was a solid union, Dr. Smith would still be at Deerwood. This mess has to stop! People refuse to believe that low-income and minority kids can achieve…enough already!

Believe in Karma?

December 21st, 2009
10:19 am

You are reading this from the perspective of Lisa Smith’s husband. He only believes what she tells him. No, she was not in the building during the summer, but the assistant principal was. The assistant principal did what ever Lisa Smith told her to do. I believe they were so desparate after running off the majority of the staff that they would have done anything. They upset and negatively changed the lives of many people. This is not racially motivated. It is just karma!

Stressed Educator

December 21st, 2009
10:22 am

Thanks Maureen for the posting of the letter. I think the principal has been placed in this situation, not because the PSC is racist, but because the superintendent and APS Board of Education decided to throw her to the wolves to save their own jobs. Science Teacher671, the principal of summer school at Deerwood was African-American and female. The community needs to understand that this sort of thing happens to teachers in APS often without it making the news or newspapers. Teachers are terminated and have false allegations brought against them when they refuse to cheat, cover up an APS scandal or go against the grain. I do feel for this principal, but I do want others to understand the hell that teachers go through when facing the same adversity and its doesn’t make the papers.
Maureen, why didn’t the husband copy Beverly Hall and the Atlanta Board of Education in his letter? How much did they really fight on behalf of the principal? What about the allegations that were investigated about the principal being the goddaughter of Beverly Hall? As an African-American educator who works for APS,I know first hand how cheating on the state test is not an abnormal occurrence in the system. After nearly twenty years in education, I can say that within the last five years, administrators and teachers have been pressured by the Empire on Trinity Avenue (APS) to do “whatever” has to be done to continue the upward trend of increasing elementary school scores on the state tests despite students’ abilities. I am not saying that gains can not be made, but when one reviews the first test scores of the students at Deerwood and the retake scores–even with one-on-one assistance— the scores seem to be questionable. Summer school is only four hours a day and less than forty days. The retake test has been in the past harder than the first administration of the test. Math is not a concept that can be taught or learned overnight–not even with one-on-one assistance. I am not saying this principal cheated or that cheating may not have occurred. Ask yourself, one question–Do you think an administrator would cheat if they have been told by the superintendent’s entourage that if the school does not make AYP, his or her six figure salary job will be gone?

Newton Teacher

December 21st, 2009
10:25 am

Shame! Shame on all of you responsible for destroying this administrators good name and character. Keep the faith Lisa! In this life I have learned this- good things come to good people and bad goes to bad people. Those who rendered their decision to suspend her license without considering all findings should not only sleep poorly each night, they should rot in h**l.


December 21st, 2009
10:41 am

I have no idea who is right or wrong and his letter is certainly one sided, kudo’s to him for sticking up for his wife. But what if the cheating really did occur?


December 21st, 2009
10:41 am

Guilty parties always throw out the race-card as a red-herring. This pretty much convinces me that the woman is a cheat and should no longer be in the field of education.

You can also tell that she wrote the letter – not her husband. Shows how pathetic her character really is.


December 21st, 2009
10:44 am

Just one more reason not to link salaries with student performance…and I’m a teacher. I have seen teachers cheat on department tests because the scores are posted on bulletin boards in the hallway, no one wants to look bad! When your pay (or your job) depends on something like kid’s test scores, there will be cheating.
Maybe this principal did get railroaded…happens all the time to teachers and it never makes the paper!


December 21st, 2009
11:27 am

Before everyone jumps to the defense of this principal, the entire story needs to be told. I don’t live in the city of Atlanta, but I live close to Deerwood and have had former colleagues to work there and later leave. She has mixed reviews from parents and teachers. What I do know is that cheating is rampant in APS, possibly encouraged. There need to be more investigations. Many of the students are below level, yet they pass the CRCT each year. Either the test is flawed or the scores are a lie.

State Board of Ed Meeting today

December 21st, 2009
12:01 pm

This may be of topic, but maybe not. The State board of ed is meeting today after a meeting was “called” on the 18th. The website says it was called to discuss Math I and Math II EOCT scores and personnel matters.
Is someone from the AJC covering this meeting?

In Response to Karma

December 21st, 2009
12:15 pm

Such a sad sad day that you would use this forum to carry out a personal vendetta. I am sure that I know who you are. It is so evident in the viscious words that you used. Could you be a teacher or maybe even the ILS that Dr. Smith had to rid the school of because everything she meant for good for the students you were busy unraveling to address your personal agenda. Shame, shame on you. Maybe you have a point about Karma. Is that why you are in the position that you are in right now? Furthermore, you can tell that these are “black folk” because you are worried about the wrong thing. Instead of being concerned about a whole school community and the void left in children’s lives, your only interest is to carry out a personal vendetta because probably this principal held your feet to the fire and made you give %100 to children everyday. The greatest thing that could have ever occured is that she purged the building of the poisonous apples like you.

In Response to Karma II

December 21st, 2009
12:19 pm

Please oh please stop using this forum to fuel your personal vendetta! This is not the forum to address personal matters that you may have had with Dr. Smith. What a coward to hide behind a blog.

The issue at hand is being just and fair. If you don’t have a comment for the cause, please remain silent.


December 21st, 2009
12:20 pm

This is of topic, I would hope the EOCT’s for Math I and II are not being “cut” to change the scores from not passing to passing.

State Board of Ed Meeting today

December 21st, 2009
12:26 pm

I don’t know i you have a child taking math I or math 2 right now, but scores for math 2 in particular should not even be counted. Math I was not counted last year as it was the first year of widespread administration of the test. This is the first year for widespread administration of math 2. Most math 2 teachers are teaching the course for the very first time!


December 21st, 2009
12:39 pm

I do have a child in the Math II this year, I don’t care if Math II is counted or not, but I would like to here some truth from the BOE regarding the results of the EOCT’s for Math I and II. Did the PSAT scores for math increase this year for the 10th grade?

Get Back to It

December 21st, 2009
12:43 pm

The issue at hand is the State of Georgia, GOSA, and PSC being able to throw their weight around unfairly. This is the issue we should be focusing on because if it can happen to Deerwood and it’s leader, it can happen to anyone. I agree with Response to Karma II, if you have a personal issue with Dr. Smith. Contact her directly. The previous post said she still works for the system.

Get Back to It II

December 21st, 2009
12:52 pm

Again, please let’s stay focused. This blog is great, but what is going to be done about the injustices at hand with the State of Georgia, GOSA, and the PSC. Stop using this blog to fight each other and let’s fight who we really should be fighting. What happened to Dr. Smith can happen to any educator.

Karma is real!

December 21st, 2009
1:00 pm

I too have worked for this principal at this school and agree that this is the Karma that mrs. Smith and Jordan have created for themselves. This was the worst atmosphere that I have ever worked in full of threats, scrutiny, lies, political agendas, and illegal activity. O know teachers who actually have sat in their cars and cried before entering this building not because of the students or parents but because of the stress and needless retaliation that these principals inflict upon those that they are intimidated by. I also agree that whether on vacation or not the assistant principal does what she is told. She was a puppet the entire time that I was employed at deerwood and was often at the head of Ms. Smiths foolery and lies. They worked as a team and Ms. Smith is also said to have a very tight personal relationship with Superintendent Beverly Hall. At the end of the day I hope they all realize that no one is above the law and certainly your harmful actions, lies, plots, and torment of staff and children will not go unrecognized by a higher power who is always in CONTROL!
I have also met her husband and regardless of his occupation or dress I would also strongly assume that he did not write this letter which should speak volumes about thelack of character of Ms. Smith.

A total insult this African American community

December 21st, 2009
1:11 pm

I applaud Mr. Smith for sticking up for Dr. Smith. Kudos to your cause because this is down right insulting. This was definitely a Teach For America site- I know several TFA teachers who were there that summer. They are downright disgusted. I learned that there were two principals and two assistant principals on duty during the week of testing. One of the principals was the principal in charge of the total program-not Dr. Smith, and the other principal was the principal of one of the elementary schools assigned to the site. The AP’s- one was from Deerwood and the other from one of the schools assigned to the site. THIS WAS A SEPARATE SCHOOL FOR THE SUMMER!!! The question is why was only the Deerwood Principal and AP charged with alleged wrong doing if all of these people were present and in-charge? why didn’t the PSC charge them with cheating if this is about cheating? The charge was simply “being the AP and Principal of the site where alleged answer sheets were tampered with”. Why hasn’t this community demanded more answers before now? This would NEVER have happened in Buckhead people…race card opponents, you must admit that this is a true statement…or why don’t YOU ask GOSA to look into the data at your buckhead neighborhood APS schools for the past 5 years using the same MEASURING STICK…Kathleen Mathers’ “feelings”!!!!

In terms of APS, there were only two elementary schools in APS who needed to make ayp that summer- Adamsville and Deerwood. Has anyone questioned the standard deviation of Adamsville and why they are not a part of the cheating scandal? Both of the schools made AYP after summer school…..I agree with one of the bloggers…the community was hand selected to be apart of this because of the venom you guys have gone to length to spew against this principal every since she got to that school. They knew you definitely don’t support your neighborhood schools, so Deerwood would be a prime candidate for destruction. SHAMEFUL!! Oh, by the way, I did some research….Adamsville had a standard deviation of 5.0 above the mean, it is predominantly African American with a free and reduced lunch population of about 93%….supposedly not included in Kathleen Mathers APS witch hunt since it passed her “erasure analysis”….Deerwood’s was 3.3 or 3.4 by the way…with the 5:12 teacher/student ratio that summer. Clearly there is some political “cover up” here. I believe that both APS and GOSA are in bed together at this point. PEOPLE, YOU NEED TO THINK FOR A CHANGE!!!!

Those of you from the Deerwood community, school or former staff members should be ashamed. Do you realize that this is not the time for you to take cheap shots at the administration….I guess you don’t. those of you who are guilty of this are all too stupid to realize that this is a slap in the face to you and your children as well. Do you think that if this were you, you would be treated differently? This can be you and will be if you continue to walk around in ignorance like “field hands”.

For the “Karma” person….i hear that the educators that were moved out of Deerwood that year were moved because they refused to teach the students and kept up “mess” as a smoke screen for their incompetence…you were probably one of them and one of the ones who was responsible for the large number of student’s required to attend summer school that year because your lack of instruction. So with this in mind “Believe in Karma”, failing to teach helpless children in your charge will result in Karma from the Man Up Stairs….so if it is Karma for them…then you are next…I hope you don’t have children of your own…..
Kudos to you and your AP, Dr. Smith….The two of you were great with my children at Deerwood and made their elementary experience special. I know that the two of you are fighting with everything you’ve got!! I am with you all 100%, you are in my prayers and I will be spreading the word. I know the both of you have been through hell with this political mess. God Bless You Both.


December 21st, 2009
1:17 pm

Hey Mike or Lisa, You should have sent copies to Jesse and Al. They are both media hungry and don’t really care about the facts of a situation they just profess racism and will continue to hold minorities in the dark ages.


December 21st, 2009
1:50 pm

@Teacher2, the tests are flawed – students can be working up to 4 years below grade level and still pass the CRCT. For most, if not all, of the Georgia state tests, a student must “exceed expectations” to actually pass or be working anywhere near grade level. To say that a student who merely “meets expectations” is “proficient” is a total deception by the state DOE. The frightening thing to me is that some schools apparently feel the need to cheat even with the bar set as low as it is.


December 21st, 2009
1:52 pm

@Parent, I hope the AJC is covering the state board meeting re Math EOCTs.

Yes, they will set the cut scores so that students who aren’t passing are passing. For the science EOCTs, you don’t even have to “pass” (i.e., score over 70%) to “exceed expectations”. Isn’t that special?


December 21st, 2009
2:20 pm

To all teachers and administrators out there– This could happen to you at any time. It won’t matter how much you cared, how hard you worked, or how much a difference you made in your students’ lives. Just when you least expect it, that same cold knife that got Ms. Smith might just stab you in the back too. You will never see it coming. It might be because you’re black, it might be because you are white. It could be because you know to much. Whatever it is, it’s not going to be about what is best for the children. Regardless of the rhetoric, it’s never about that. – Is it?

VoiceOf Reason

December 21st, 2009
2:50 pm

Generally, a liar (and I too am willing to believe that this letter was at the least a ‘joint’ effort between husband and wife) would not call on the feds to investigate because surely they would be found guilty and completely ruined, more than a suspension.

I think this is worth looking into.

lets call a spade a spade

December 21st, 2009
3:04 pm

“racially motivated unjust attack”

ahh as someone else stated the race card comes into play. we have a black commander-in-chief but america is too “raciss!” to allow an af. am. the job of a principal. cry me a river mr. smith!

p.s. mrs. smith you really wrote this letter didn’t you? come on i won’t tell anyone! ;)


December 21st, 2009
3:33 pm


December 21st, 2009
3:41 pm

Say what you want, but if this principal did write this letter, she is really talented. The school indeed lost a smart one. This is a great letter and I am an author. It is detailed and succinct. It really doesn’t matter who put the words in order, the truth is these governing bodies are exposed! I am sure educators who have had dealings with the PSC are applauding. Great job whoever!