The AJC has a fascinating story on how 29 DeKalb teachers and principals were flagged for possible test tampering in the CRCT cheating scandal — use of their security key cards on weekends and late at night while the answer booklets were still in the schools.
“There’s a chain of evidence that requires only certain people to have access to those tests,” said spokesman Walter Woods. “There were several instances where employees accessed school over the weekend and those employees were flagged.”
Many of the 24 — five of the employees are no longer employed with DeKalb — are reassigned to cataloging, distributing and ordering textbooks. Others are working on a special education research report. Subs are costing the county nearly a half million dollars.
While DeKalb has not released the names of the impacted schools, the AJC has been told the list includes Rainbow, Shadow Rock, Cedar Grove, Glen Haven, Stoneview and Woodridge elementary schools, and Cedar Grove Middle School.
The issue for me would be whether the employees in question often came in on weekends and late nights. Also, it’s not clear to me whether the key cards were only needed to get into the building or to also get into where the tests were stored. It would be more damning if employees used key cards to enter both the building and the area where the tests were being stored.
According to the AJC: (Please read the entire story.)
In each school, the tests were locked in filing cabinets, closets or other locations that were secure from the public, custodians and other staff. But principals and some teachers had access to the secure locations, Woods said.
The teams conducted 280 interviews, including those with every employee who entered these secure areas and the schools during odd hours. These interviews were turned over to the state in May, school officials said.
The teams then narrowed the list of target schools to 11. Interviews were conducted with another 59 employees and those findings were turned over to the state in August, Woods said.
But just because employees accessed a secure office or a classroom on the weekend, doesn’t mean they cheated, said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “We have dedicated employees that go to the buildings and work,” said Schutten, who represents almost 5,000 employees in DeKalb. “It’s all circumstantial, indirect evidence. There is no evidence that DeKalb cheated. I went into the schools and told them [to] cooperate. It’s nothing like Atlanta where people didn’t talk or cooperate.”
In some cases, investigators found individuals who accessed the school on weekends had done so many other weekends through the years. In another case, an employee had to go to Glen Haven Elementary School to feed the fish.
“Glen Haven has a fish hatchery. Someone has to go feed the fish on the weekend,” Schutten said.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog