Two dozen DeKalb educators yanked after cheating probe

Big news in DeKalb where the school system has removed 24 employees from the classroom today as a result of an investigation into CRCT cheating.

The employees were notified that they will be re-assigned to other duties while the state investigates their certification. And the school is giving the results of the cheating investigation to the DA.

All told, the system referred 29 employees to the state Professional Standards Commission including five principals and five assistant principals.  The rest were teachers. But five of those employees have already resigned or were fired.

The employees are from nine schools. Anyone out there have any idea which schools were involved?

According to the breaking AJC news story on this:

This afternoon, the district will deliver those findings to the DeKalb district attorney.

“No cheating has been proved and no one has come forward and admitted to cheating,” schools spokesman Jeff Dickerson said. “It’s just to keep the district attorney apprised of actions.”

Dickerson said he does not anticipate criminal charges, but it is up to the district attorney if he wants to investigate.

School officials declined to identify the employees or schools, but said they referred 29 current and former employees to the state Professional Standards Commission because of “concerns that they may have been engaged in inappropriate conduct during the administration of the 2009 CRCT.”

The 29 include five principals and five assistant principals. The rest are teachers. The employees are from nine schools.

Five of those employees have since been terminated or have resigned.

The PSC can revoke or suspend the educators’ teaching certification, which means they can no longer teach in Georgia. Anyone who loses their certification will likely be terminated, Dickerson said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

61 comments Add your comment

Allen

January 27th, 2011
12:39 pm

Um, shouldn’t Megan have asked which schools–and noted it if they wouldn’t tell her?

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

January 27th, 2011
12:40 pm

Hmm…this newbie superintendent reacts swiftly and with force to protect children from suspected cheaters; she doesn’t try to spin it through a lackey or cover it up by deleting documents. If I were still drinking the Bev Hall Kool-Aid, like our hapless BOE rep Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, I’d feel pretty sick to my stomach right about now.

This is how it’s done, people. You don’t spin, you don’t conceal, you don’t play dumb. You remove the suspected cheaters NOW and fight it out legally later if you have to but you REMOVE THE SUSPECTED CHEATERS FROM THE SCHOOLS.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

January 27th, 2011
12:42 pm

By the way, I sure hope that was a misquote and the school spokesman didn’t actually say he wanted to keep the DA ” ‘comprised’ of actions.” However, I doubt the reporter mistook “comprised” for “apprised” so it’s likely the spokesman for the system was quoted correctly. Sigh….

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

*snicker* tee hee

Maureen Downey

January 27th, 2011
1:22 pm

@SPringdale, I thought the same thing and have a call into Jeff about the quote. Will change if the reporter misheard him.
Maureen
UPDATE: Couldn’t reach Jeff Dickerson, but his DeKalb colleague Walter Woods thought that Jeff probably said “apprised,” so I have changed.
Jeff needs to talk to the DeKalb school system operator, who, when I asked to speak to Jeff Dickerson, told me that no such person worked for the schools. I told the man that Jeff was the system’s spokesman.

Seymore Skinner

January 27th, 2011
1:24 pm

Tyson ain’t chicken on this one

chillywilly

January 27th, 2011
1:46 pm

Tyson for APS Superintendent.

Write Your Board Members

January 27th, 2011
1:59 pm

Can you link the original list of schools that were on the severe list?

Soccer Mom

January 27th, 2011
2:17 pm

Dr NO

January 27th, 2011
2:25 pm

I wonder how many have yet to be found out?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

January 27th, 2011
2:26 pm

SPEP,

You are right: Leadership is not for the timid or the duplicitous.

Three questions: (1) why didn’t the GOSA submit a copy of its findings concerning the 2009 CRCT testing irregularities directly to the DeKalb DA and the GBI? (2) has the credibility of a DA investigation been compromised by the DCSS’s internal investigation into the irregularities? (3) might a GAPSC investigation also contaminate any evidence of criminal activity on part of any DCSS personnel?

Soccer Mom

January 27th, 2011
2:26 pm

Since that link doesn’t appear to work. The Severe List schools are:
Cedar Grove Middle, 35.00%
Dekalb Path Academy, 25.00%
Dekalb Truancy, 66.70%
Glen Haven Elementary, 44.90%
Shadow Rock Elementary, 40.00%
Stoneview Elementary, 48.10%

Maureen Downey

January 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

@Soccer mom, I have talked to someone about an administrator from Glen Haven getting up and leaving a scheduled training session off campus this morning just before the event was supposed to start. I wonder if that was because she was affected or she had to return to the school immediately to take over for another person who was affected?
Maureen

Cere

January 27th, 2011
2:33 pm

I’m very pleased to see this kind of strong action from Tyson and our board. It gives me hope that more strong actions will follow (starting with removing unnecessary bloat.)

BTW – Maureen – thanks for the chuckle – “Jeff needs to talk to the DeKalb school system operator, who, when I asked to speak to Jeff Dickerson, told me that no such person worked for the schools. I told the man that Jeff was the system’s spokesman.” That’s funny!

Soccer Mom

January 27th, 2011
2:42 pm

@Maureen, I have no inside knowledge about any of this but I’m sure one of the two scenarios you suggest is correct since these are the six schools with huge discrepancies. I’m sure we’ll have all the information in the next few hours because word will spread despite any attempt to control it.

Karma

January 27th, 2011
2:56 pm

And this didn’t happen in APS because? Oh yeah, our super’s a crook. I forgot.

catlady

January 27th, 2011
2:57 pm

What other duties can they do and be paid for that are not directly in contact with the children? And why do these jobs exist?

HStchr

January 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

I’ll assume they did a thorough investigation…but one should never assume. My only worry here is that some of the teachers may be taken out as scapegoats. I’ll have to wait and see what the evidence shows before I decide if this is right. Obviously somebody erased and changed a lot of answers, and those responsible need to be fired post haste! I just hope they have the evidence to back up the firings.

Ernest

January 27th, 2011
3:24 pm

catlady, my guess is they will be assigned to the service center. Everyone is entitled to ‘due process’ so I would also guess these jobs are being created until the investigation is completed. I’m sure there is work to be done such as filing, copying, etc.

Raquel Morris

January 27th, 2011
3:27 pm

Will Jeff Dickerson disclose his paid position with DeKalb County Schools when he undoubtedly defends them on the Georgia Gang Sunday? I wish someone would put him out of business already. He’s bought and paid for, but impersonates an impartial journalist.

almh

January 27th, 2011
3:28 pm

catlady – DeKalb has a very long list of such jobs. That’s one of our big problems.

Aquagirl

January 27th, 2011
3:59 pm

@ Raquel, and if Dickerson confuses “comprised” instead of “apprised” he sucks at his job anyway. Both of them.

Elizabeth

January 27th, 2011
4:08 pm

Do we have cheaters or quick scapegoats? Either way, remember my previous post on another blog topic: The more the emphasis for employee performance is based on test scores, the more cheating there will be AND the more scapegoats we will have as others scramble to cover themselves.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

January 27th, 2011
4:53 pm

Cere,

The problems with public education throughout our state will not be resolved without strong actions.

KUDOS to Dr.Tyson for taking one!

bootney farnsworth

January 27th, 2011
5:00 pm

I’m thinking scapegoat more than effective move.
these guys probably were/are guilty, but this does little in dealing with where the problem truly lies – principals and above.

Write Your Board Members

January 27th, 2011
5:11 pm

WSB TV showed parents at Glen Haven who received notes home that their principal was removed.

by the way

January 27th, 2011
5:13 pm

Ramona Tyson my hat is off to you. Now if you would be so kind as to remove CROOKS, RONALD RAMSEY and JAMIE WILSON, your shake up will not be in vain…..

Elisabeth

January 27th, 2011
5:29 pm

Back when Mr. Hallford was in charge and his wife taught 4th grade and Mr. Lavender was the principle at Idlewood Elementary….this NEVER would have happened.

Momentary Lapse of Reason

January 27th, 2011
5:29 pm

Who going to teach our children five to ten years from now? Who will want to be a teacher if we continue to bash the profession with such venom?

Dr. Whoever

January 27th, 2011
5:41 pm

Well, this should have been done @ the beginning of the school year. Do we care about the students? Now students must get adjusted to another person and discipline becomes a problem.

Dr. Whoever

January 27th, 2011
5:49 pm

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta ,Mrs. Tyson and not Dr. Tyson

catlady

January 27th, 2011
6:04 pm

Do other systems keep places they can stash folks whose job it is to work with kids while investigations are going on? (I know we stash ineffective principals/well connected teachers for a few years so they can retire more comfortably.)

Private school guy

January 27th, 2011
6:05 pm

I’m wondering if anyone involved may come forward and say the cheating was ordered by the central office. Regardless as I’ve said before the method of testing invites such behavior. Stop the madness now.

Jo

January 27th, 2011
6:12 pm

@ Dr. Craig Spinks
Ramona Tyson does not have a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. or even a fake doctorate that is so popular with the DeKalb County School System (DCSS) Palace crowd.

Actually, Ramona Tyson’s stance on this is NOT that of a capable and talented school superintendent making tough decisions. Tyson is doing this simply because SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) is “investigating” DCSS this week. Not to worry, Ramona. The SACS team will enjoy the top-flight accommodations and gourmet meals they insist on, paid for by DCSS. They will have carefully orchestrated school and Palace visits, as well as interviews with hand-picked teachers, parents and students — much like tours of the former Soviet Union. And they will go away, satisfied that the DCSS BOE members all have been issued a copy of Roberts Rules of Order and that there is little likelihood of “close votes and sharp divisions” in the DCSS BOE, since the BOE essentially remains unchanged. Thanks, South DeKalb voters! Blondie is gone, but Curley, Moe and Larry remain, along with Foghorn Leghorn, Prissy and Cat Woman. The two new board members — the ones without a criminal record, who do not routinely carry a gun, who do have a college education and financial acumen — will be voted down every time. Yay! Pretty damn close to consensus! Yes, SACS will go away happy. The DCSS taxpayers, DCSS teachers and DCSS students take it in the chops once again.

another comment

January 27th, 2011
6:14 pm

The Supt. is already under a RICO indictment with Pat Pope Ried or what ever her name of the day is. He took tickets to Football and Braves game as his payoff. He got tripped up lying about filing his car up with gas three times in one day.

Education Insider

January 27th, 2011
6:15 pm

Reassigned…what ever happened to fired?

A Whole Lotta Coincidence

January 27th, 2011
8:07 pm

So the State BOE orders Dekalb to investigate the cheating scandal almost one year ago:

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-yanks-24-teachers-817787.html

“February 11, 2010: The state Board of Education orders districts to investigate 191 schools statewide for potential cheating, including schools in DeKalb County.”

Then DCSS completes its investigation way back in September 2010:
“Summer 2010: DeKalb officials complete their preliminary investigation, turning initial findings over to the state.”

But suddenly employees are suspended only after SACS comes to town????

One Day

January 27th, 2011
8:11 pm

Maureen: Question, would the AJC allow you to also work as a school system spokesperson (heck no), and also appear weekly on The Georgia Gang list your employer as the AJC, and not disclose you are also paid to be a school system spokesperson?

Dickerson appears weekly on The Georgia Gang as “Jeff Dickerson, Atlanta Tribune”. His lack of professional ethics is spellbinding.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

January 27th, 2011
8:46 pm

@Jo: your comment is sobering. I might have been too quick to credit Tyson. I was just so eager to believe someone in one of the metro school systems could figure out how to do the right thing…and actually do it. But I’ll reset my expectations back to “bottom basement….”

Chauncy Gardner

January 27th, 2011
9:20 pm

“The employees were notified that they will be re-assigned to other duties…”

That’s a far cry from being terminated. For some of them just getting out of the classroom for awhile may be more like a paid vacation.

Chana Paige

January 27th, 2011
9:23 pm

Please give me a break. Ramona knew about this before now and she allowed these people to administer the 2010 CRCT! Now because SACS arrived to wants to make a bold move! Once again people, you are snowed.

@Teacher

January 27th, 2011
9:27 pm

So if the children can’t READ, I guess we should look at hiring MAGICIANS instead of EDUCATORS….this is a joke! I guess Dr. Blackwood wasn’t so crazy after all…….Mark my words, this is only the beginning……..

say what?

January 27th, 2011
9:53 pm

Jeff is a paid consultant. Remember people complained about having a fulltime employee as spokesperson, so Dale was let go, and a contract for services was drawn up with Jeff’s consulting business. No matter what the solution, people will once again complain. Even when the media consultant was brought on board people complained at that. So should Sloan Roach be let go in Gwinnett schools? Eventually AJC will have to attack the largest school system in GA, where the new suburban headquarters of AJC is now located.

If the initial investigation was done in the summer, and people refused to cooperate (be truthful) until their retirement papers were submitted and processed, and they retired at the end of the year, how the heck is it some strange coincidence that this was put out while SACS was there?

Innocent until proved guilty, so these people can either be put on administrative leave with pay (ie stay home), or be forced to show up to a building everyday. Heck,we all knew Brian Nichols was guilty of what he did in 2005, but until a court of law says otherwise we have to give the person their due justice, even when it involves children (sadly).

Penny

January 27th, 2011
10:27 pm

This all a big show, these poor educators being put up as sacramental sheep to keep that SACS group happy. They done no wrong.I know.

Penny

January 27th, 2011
10:30 pm

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

Penny

January 27th, 2011
10:31 pm

*Sacrificial lamb. *edit to prior post.

reassigned

January 27th, 2011
10:56 pm

the teachers and principals are cheating on test results and they get “reassigned”? how about fired? they probably played the race card to keep their jobs and obscene pensions.

Understanding Atlanta

January 27th, 2011
11:10 pm

I’m okay with the reassignment while the DA and DCSS complete their investigation and find actually proof of cheating. Allegations aren’t always enough to get you fired. I’d hate to fire 24 teachers for allegedly cheating then prove that 3 of them didn’t cheat. It’s not like DCSS would give them their job back, but that creates a legal nightmare.

I supsect that the time it took for this to happen is because like any beaucracy, regardless of who it serves, it doesn’t move quickly. And having schools supsected of cheating is very different from be able to single out the individuals. It could as little as 3 people and the others are none the wiser or a widepsread concerted effort.

SallyB

January 28th, 2011
12:01 am

Many school systems have this “reassignment” deal instead of outright firing. Although in Dekalb, there have been many notable instances of teachers as well as administrators being “reassigned” [read that promoted] to county palace..er-r-r office jobs when they are not capable and/or effective teachers.

There have been several news stories on the big “time out” building in NYC that houses teachers that have been removed from the classrooms there. Some have been reporting there for years and years and collecting large salaries with regular raises. What do they do there? Read magazines, play on computers, play games and cards. Here in Dekalb, the “time out” building is the Service Ctr or the county offices.

SevereCategory1

January 28th, 2011
5:23 am

I suppose having only schools in the “severe” or “moderate” cheating categories is supposed to be an effective use of limited resources. Then again, why would the resources be limited to investigate cheating in schools? Why would a school come under scrutiny only if it reached a certain threshold as a percentage of classes that are under suspicion? If a school had 4.9% of classes with suspicious activity why is that school categorized as “clear?” That could be a number of classes. Which classes? Shouldn’t every principal be given a mandate to look into possible cheating even if the school didn’t quite reach the percent necessary to trigger the moderate or severe label? What is the acceptable level of cheating in a school
anyway? The testing service should audit the last five years of testing results. They very well might find the same “educators” and administrators have been doing this all along. I suppose if your caught one year, you can shrug, and say you just have no idea how all those answers got changed. But if the pattern has followed you around for five years, that gets quite a bit more difficult to defend.