Has APS gone from resenting cheating probe to subverting it?

Two new AJC stories on the ongoing Atlanta CRCT cheating scandal reveal not only official resentment of a widening state investigation into the suspected test tampering, but possible subversion of that investigation.

Neither story portrays the system as eager to get to the bottom of where and how cheating occurred and who was responsible. Instead, the leaders seemed more focused on circling the wagons. Whoever takes over for outgoing Superintendent Beverly Hall will inherit a badly wounded and deeply dysfunctional system.

There will need to a total change of leadership at the top since so many officials have been tainted by this scandal. And there must be a rebuilding of trust between the central office and the principals and teachers in the schools.

First, the AJC reported a troubling conference call with principals in which Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine encouraged them to push parents and students to take sides in an escalating school board divide inspired by the allegations of cheating on the CRCT by some APS schools.

According to the AJC:

If the board didn’t fall in line, Augustine warned, “I will say to you honestly that the chamber and others around the city are talking about erasing board members.”

In statements issued through a spokesman Wednesday, Augustine said she has never told employees to refuse to assist investigators.

Hall said Wednesday she will again tell district leaders they must cooperate with the inquiry and direct them to refrain from commenting on it, the GBI or the cheating scandal.

On Monday, the district reassigned Tamara Cotman, a regional superintendent who supervised about two dozen schools. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a day earlier that Cotman allegedly met with principals last year and advised them to tell GBI agents to “go to hell.” Her lawyer denied Cotman broke any policies or laws.

In the phone call last fall, Augustine did not advocate thwarting the state inquiry. But her high rank — she is second-in-charge to Hall for instructional matters — and disparaging words raise more questions about district leaders’ cooperation with the investigation.

The “calling in of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is what, nothing short of horrific, ” Augustine said in the call. “It is extremely denigrating, it is extremely disrespectful, it is . . . it is just . . . it is just bizarre.”

She went on to say the district will “get through it by doing what we do best and that is educate kids and doing things right, doing things within the law, following policies and just being honest.”

In her e-mailed statement Wednesday, Augustine elaborated: “My reference to ‘horrific’ related specifically to the reaction of many educators to state [GBI] agents who normally investigate felony criminal activity going to schools in the middle of the day to question principals, teachers and staff.”

Augustine’s call took place at the same time the Atlanta school board was asking a Superior Court judge to settle its differences. Five members had voted to replace their chairwoman, who they accused of failing to communicate key information related to the cheating scandal. In addition, GBI agents had just begun visiting Atlanta schools to question educators about tampering.

Augustine told the principals on the call that the five board members’ actions put the district in jeopardy of losing accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The five are generally seen as more willing to question the district administration than the other four members.

Augustine said students and parents “need to be informed” of possible fallout from the board dispute. “So you make it a teachable moment.”

In a second AJC story, APS appears to be thwarting the investigatory team assembled by Gov. Sonny Perdue to look into cheating. Perdue created his own team after deeming the system’s own probe of improbable score gains on the CRCT superficial and unsatisfactory.

The story states:

State investigators have uncovered what they call a pattern of “intimidating, threatening and retaliating” against Atlanta Public Schools employees who report cheating or other improprieties. In a piercing letter Wednesday to the school system demanding a stop to obstructive practices, investigators suggested the district has acted “to protect those in its ranks who engage in intimidation of potential witnesses to cheating.”

The investigators said they found evidence the district has engaged in such practices for years. But even during the state’s current criminal inquiry into cheating on standardized tests, the investigators said, school officials have allowed principals under suspicion to stand just outside rooms where witnesses were giving statements, “with the obvious intent to make their presence known and to put a chilling effect on the staff member being interviewed.”

The investigators also complained that the district waited two months to reassign a high-level official accused of advising principals to not cooperate with the inquiry and instructing them to write “go to hell” memos to state agents. The delay, investigators said, gave the official time to retaliate against at least one subordinate. And the district suppressed information about its own inquiry into the official’s actions, investigators Mike Bowers, Bob Wilson and Richard Hyde said.

The investigators’ letter — first reported Thursday by Channel 2 Action News — stops barely short of accusing district officials of criminal violation of a state law that prohibits threatening witnesses.

Nevertheless, the letter raises the stakes in an already tense conflict between the district and the state investigators whose inquiry is casting doubts on the schools’ claims of long-term academic achievement.

The investigators told the district to drop plans, announced Monday, to look into excessive wrong-to-right erasures on the 2010 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 16 schools. The state investigation began last summer after then-Gov. Sonny Perdue and other state officials questioned the diligence of the district’s examination of suspicious erasures on the 2009 CRCT in 58 Atlanta elementary and middle schools.

“Any investigation by APS into alleged cheating on the 2010 CRCT, wrong-to-right erasures, possible test tampering and any related issues must cease and desist immediately, ” Bowers, Wilson and Hyde wrote. “As we previously warned you, any such investigation by APS will invariably interfere with and impede the governor’s special investigation into possible test tampering. . . . Any attempt by APS to interfere with our investigation or to conduct its own investigation would be seen as obstruction, an attempt to influence witnesses and tampering with evidence.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

144 comments Add your comment

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 19th, 2011
3:50 pm

I hope, at this stage, no one finds this surprising. Again, great work by the AJC reporters. And again, more bombast and bullcrap from the APS administration.

Time for accountability

February 19th, 2011
4:02 pm

Kathy Augustine is a retired APS administrator collecting a fat pension.

She is double dipping as a contract consultant, recently approved by this board.

Time to “erase” her and her high paying contacter job. Next board meeting is next week. Finally, time for responsible heads to roll.

tim

February 19th, 2011
4:02 pm

EBONICS at work courtesy of that lyin, deceiving, tampering Bev Hall.

FIRE HER NOW!

NWGA teacher

February 19th, 2011
4:04 pm

Circling the wagons? Bet the investigators have flaming arrows.

Oh, what history!

February 19th, 2011
4:39 pm

From Grammar to High School no pupil can go,
Till strictly examined in the studies below;
Save the Superintendent should deem it the best
To grant the promotion without such a test.

——from “Rules for Scholars,” issued by the Public Schools of Atlanta, 1871

jkpatlanta

February 19th, 2011
4:39 pm

It is time to question all of the awards received by Beverly Hall for all of her progress with APS. It would not be surprising if the cheating scandal goes directly to Beverly Hall’s desk.

Lee

February 19th, 2011
4:49 pm

The only way for APS to redeem itself is to fire Beverly Hall and bring in a headhunter interim superintendent who will start handing out pink slips.

I really don’t think that will happen and ten years from now, we’ll still be blogging about the corruption at APS.

Dr. John Trotter

February 19th, 2011
5:17 pm

Maureen: Thanks for this topic. Unfortunately, right now, I am about to go eat. I have at least one post about the Atlanta situation that, for some reason, was being blocked while you were out of town. Hey, I understand…I am a little bit unpredictable! Ha!

At the least, Beverly Hall and her top lieutenants must leave immediately. What, pray tell, is the purpose for their lingering? The gig is over. The falsehoods, the intimidation, the total corrupted system is being embarrassingly revealed before a stunned public. I told people for years that Clayton County was no where even close to being corrupt as Atlanta and DeKalb. I think that folk simply thought that I was being an apologist for Clayton County. No, Clayton could be very, very crazy in the past, but mainly the Clayton County folk were just working stiffs who were highly independent and didn’t like the likes of Mark Elgart singling them out and treating them differently. As a whole, though, there was no wholesale cheating and “thuggerism” (one of my made up words). But, hey, I certainly can’t vouch for Clayton County now! But, for years, the Beverly Hall Administration has been as phony as a three dollar bill. Only naive marks were taken in by her bull sh_t. And that’s what it is…pure bull sh_t.

Hey, gotta run for now. “Hall Must Go!” I must have written that a zillion times on picket signs! © MACE, February 19, 2011.

chillywilly

February 19th, 2011
5:20 pm

Fire Beverly Hall RIGHT NOW. Hire Dr. Glenn Dowell as APS Interim Superintendent and give him the authority to terminate Kathy Augustine, CFO Chuck Burbridge, Controller Nader Sohrab, HR Millicent Few, Penn Payne, Sharon Pitts, Keith Bromery, & Veleter Mazyck. I also recommend that APS hire Dr. John Trotter as Interim Deputy Superintendent of Instruction.

Word on the street is that APS Central Office abolished an entire department in the Finance Division after they reported details of fraud & coverup to Beverly Hall & top administrators.

What are we waiting for Fab 5 Board Members? Send Beverly Hall packing.

What Goes Around Comes Around

February 19th, 2011
5:35 pm

They have been circling the wagons for years. It is time to pay the piper. God is exposing them one by one. This is only the tip of the iceberg. MORE TO COME!!!

Yes, APS Is a badly wounded and deeply dysfunctional system. And so are our children (wounded and non-functioning).

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

Intown APS parent

February 19th, 2011
5:39 pm

Please do not ignore the fact that there are four APS board members who have either actively participated in the manipulation of the “blue ribbon” cheating investigation results (the old chair, so it seems) or passively stood by those who were involved (the former vice chair and two others).
The Furious Five are beset with their own ethics investigations, but the Fab Four are up to their necks in either active or passive acceptance of Hall’s manipulation of the APS cheating investigation and need to be replaced as well.

jeff sutter

February 19th, 2011
5:54 pm

Time to fire the board and the upper management. They have cheated our children instead of preparing them with a decent education/

City2Busy2Hate

February 19th, 2011
6:01 pm

“Circling the wagons” is an apt description of what’s happening. This cabal of Hall, Augustine etal should be broken up without any further delay. I’m no longer in Atlanta thank God but my state and federal taxes are still feeding the dysfunctional APS system.

Top School

February 19th, 2011
6:03 pm

Shame, shame, shame on this system that continues to protect and support these leaders.
These acts would dismiss any teacher in less than 24 hours.
How much more information do they need??…
How many more will suffer under their crude and unethical leadership??…

Top School

February 19th, 2011
6:07 pm

The APS Board should not be making decision on these issues. They are at fault for allowing this criminal leadership to remain in supervisor positions. Well informed they too… have turned a blind eye when reports were sent in attempts to expose this mess.

I would like to know why the board members have ignored every letter and report that has been sent to them concerning this corruption…Who are they trying to protect?

The mystery remains…How much was known?…Who covered for who?…What was criminal?
And who is responsible for this mess…Superintendent or APS-Board of Education?

The APS Leadership influenced and supported the unethical acts of principals to obtain the illusion of success in our schools at the expense of children and reputable teachers.

APS Teacher

February 19th, 2011
6:08 pm

What is even more astounding than these revelations is the fact that this is the way APS operates in every single aspect of their existence, and have been allowed to continue to do so. They believe they can do anything they want and get away with it, because they do.

FIRE Beverly Hall. Now. Not in June. Now. Send 99% of the Trinity Ave. staff with her, along with the majority of principals.

If we got Dr. John Trotter in there, I might be willing to stay for another year.

Educator

February 19th, 2011
6:11 pm

Well, I am certainly glad that Beverly Hall’s thuggish gang has finally been put on blast for 10 years of corruption!!! Now the GBI needs to prosecute Tamara Cotman with a felony charge for witness tampering and interfering with an investigation. Millicent Few and Jeffery Thomas need to be prosecuted as well for supporting the retaliation against employees these past 10 years. All of these employees need to show up to file a class action civil lawsuit against these four APS agents to recoup lost salaries and legal fees for the impact to their personal lives over the last ten years.

Private School Guy

February 19th, 2011
6:15 pm

The facade is crumbling. As a resident of the city I have observed the city and the school system over the last ten years and it was amazing that no one had a clue to what was really happening. Atlanta Public schools owe their improvement not to Ms. Hall but to the changing demographics of the city. Gentrification coupled with an exodus of public housing occupants are the real cause of improvement not Ms. Hall guiding hands. Atlanta is not the city it was 20 years ago.
The folly of the cheating scandal which like Watergate was not even needed indicates the real folly of basing school progress on standardized testing that the schools themselves administer and control. I find it sad that the city leaders, a professional organization and the heads of major corporations were duped in the this scam. This is a sad day for Atlanta.

Top School

February 19th, 2011
7:18 pm

Principal Reich at Warren T. Jackson Elementary…The TOP Atlanta Public School…
shows the APS administration “how to do it”.giving them the advice and connections on the NORTHSIDE.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Top School

February 19th, 2011
7:25 pm

The “calling in of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is what, nothing short of horrific, ” Augustine said in the call. “It is extremely denigrating, it is extremely disrespectful, it is . . . it is just . . . it is just bizarre.”

DISRESPECTFUL!
BiZarRE!

LOOK AT ALL THE disrespectful bizarre mess they did to teachers trying to stop them from their criminal acts…

Take your mentor LORRAINE REICH out the door with you…as she has given you the NORTHSIDE
black magic wand that has proven to have less power than you expected.

I want to see these people in handcuffs…

ScienceTeacher671

February 19th, 2011
7:29 pm

“Has APS gone from resenting cheating probe to subverting it?”

What was your first clue? Doesn’t look to me as if there’s any “gone from” there; looks as if they’ve been subverting it all along.

And with good reason, I might add. They’re in it up to their eyeballs.

Karma

February 19th, 2011
7:33 pm

Did anyone read APS’s response? They basically told the inestigators to go to hell. They have now officially and publicly lost their little minds. Why are these people still there? Why are they not being held accountable?

Dr. John Trotter

February 19th, 2011
7:39 pm

Thanks for the apparent compliments but I am not the least bit interested in being interim anything…much less superintendent or deputy superintendent. Not interim or permanent. This was what I was training for and aspiring to be about 30 years ago, but not now. I have the best job in America…saying and doing just about anything I want to say or do as Chairman and CEO of MACE. We have a very able team of staff and associates, headed up by Norreese Haynes as Vice Chairman and COO and Jeff Cox as Executive Director. They work long, long hours protecting and empowering the MACE members. We have a clear mission because we don’t represent anyone but classroom educators. No conflicts of interests. I guess because we are on the front lines every day that we see so much and hear so much about what goes on in the school systems. Educrats in the school systems are nice to us (probably out of a bit of fear) but they don’t even try to co-opt us. We are essentially non-co-optible, though sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

I have stated in publications for a number of years that Atlanta is a educational cesspool and not because of the students and teachers, but because of the so-called leadership that has little or no integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right. I have seen good folk be trampled upon and have their health and lives ruined by heartless educrats who, I believe, would sell their own mothers down the river if it meant being able to keep their nice houses and BMWs. Life consists in more than the abundance of a man’s or woman’s riches, the good Master told us. It is so true. Material things do not last. Moths and worms will eventually get them. Those who made it to the top by stepping on the backs of their colleagues and metaphorically stabbing a few of them in their backs are only building their careers on sand. Please forgive the Biblical imagery but it is so apropo in the case with Atlanta. I know that many an APS employee has cried out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” From 1999, the students and staff of APS have been in NewYorkNewJerseyJamaican Captivity. Someone on the school board must stand up and say, “Enough is enough.” Let our people return to their Homeland, a land where to a great degree mutual respect among the teachers, parents, and administrators existed and all worked for the betterment of the children. These taskmasters like Augustine and Cottman who were brought in by Beverly Hall to keep our people down have to go. In their cases, it’s a zero sum game. Beverly Hall must go too, by all means. Allow me to use one more Biblical image (perhaps some do not know that the following phrase comes from the Bible): Surely someone “sees the handwriting on the wall.” Selah. © MACE, February 19, 2011.

What Goes Around Comes Around

February 19th, 2011
7:46 pm

@Private School Guy February 19th, 2011 6:15 pm

People had a clue but some of them did not have the guts to expose the corruption. They wanted to keep their high salaries at the expense of our children. The “Street Committee” was busy with many rumors but some of them looked the other way. They hid their heads in the sand. We all knew. I tried to expose them but Richard Belcher would wasn’t interested. I wrote many letters.

Yes, some of you were duped in the this scam!

What Goes Around Comes Around

Top School

February 19th, 2011
7:46 pm

@ Intown APS parent “they were given all my information…along with all the investigators with Professional Standards and APS OIR” They were PART OF THE COVER-UP.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta

BIZARRE…IS the question I’ve been asking since 2001…HOW DO THESE UNETHICAL FOOLS GET AWAY WITH THIS CORRUPTION?…

It’s amazing how the APS Board wants to make sure these criminals get DUE PROCESS…when they denied it to everyone that has been reporting the corruption for the last 10 years…

Others LIKE MYSELF, WERE NOT HONORED WITH DUE PROCESS…A GRIEVANCE PROCESS or a respectful meeting.

Top School

February 19th, 2011
7:51 pm

Richard Belcher refused to address anything relating to NORTHSIDE APS SCHOOLS.
He refused my information 4 times…but now is reporting skirting the issue of abuse from APS Principal Reich…

He told me he didn’t care if she had her daughter on payroll…Falsified documents…did not care…
That does not turn heads at the dinner table.

Want to figure that out?
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

ScienceTeacher671

February 19th, 2011
7:53 pm

@Dr. John Trotter, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” Very apt, eh?

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:06 pm

Why has everyone ignored the TOP APS SCHOOL…Warren T. Jackson

NANCY MEISTER? How much information do you need?
Are you blind and deaf? I’ve been sending this info for the last 10 years…
It does not take much to watch the narcissistic sociopath leader at Warren T. Jackson…and look at the documentation to know something is wrong. And you think they deserve Due Process for their criminal acts!@!#@$#%$%$$^ The APS Leadership listened to Reich’s Rhetoric as she bristled up and taught them how to bully someone out the door. Reich gets advice from her colleagues…as to “how to do it” ( so that means all those she associates with are also part of the cover-up) and calls downtown to figure out how to manipulate the system. They have all been communicating together…while Reich assures them she knows the social elites …people in HIGH PLACES on the NORTHSIDE that can bail them out of any trouble they can conceive.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/30/n49m0VrTuLY

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:10 pm

Throw all of them under the bus…drive forward …back up… and spin out.
Reich, Hall, Few, Augustine, Cotman, Coleman…
and chillywilly you know the rest of them…

Dr. John Trotter

February 19th, 2011
8:10 pm

Science Teacher671: You got me on that one. Is this German or Yiddish? Ha!

Dr. John Trotter

February 19th, 2011
8:13 pm

Top School: Don’t give up. You’re making a dint (or is that “dent’ like Richard Dent of APS?). Sometimes, even when you think that no one is paying attention, you just have to keep pounding and plugging away when you know that you are right.

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:15 pm

Tamara Cotman did most of her work in APS SRT-3 NORTHSIDE SCHOOLS.

IB SCHOOLS
Morris Brandon Elementary
Garden Hills Elementary
Warren T. Jackson Elementary
E. Rivers Elementary
Sarah Smith Elementary
Sutton Middle
North Atlanta High

“These questions create a foundation for children to engage in a discovery of learning through the lens of different concepts,” said Tamara Cotman, executive director of School Reform Team 3, which includes IB-authorized Brandon, Jackson, E. Rivers and Smith elementary schools as well as Sutton Middle. “These concepts can help them understand things like honesty, integrity, creativity and curiosity. They’re always questioning and learning.”

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:26 pm

Thanks Dr. Trotter…

What amazes me is the Stockholm Syndrome that sets in with the parents and teachers of Jackson Elementary…
Someone needs to study this school…These people are still trying to make excuses for this corrupt leader.

HONESTLY…She is of no use to them…a gossip…and a sh-t stirring lunatic…THAT HAS MORE SECRETS…than even I can untangle.

They do not go after someone… like they did me…if there is not some serious deep-rooted mess to keep covered-up.

This is just the oozzz of the festering boil on the crude APS BUTT of humanity.
There aren’t enough drugs in the universe for this infection.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/9/b1vFdKXudjM

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:28 pm

“These concepts can help them understand things like honesty, integrity, creativity and curiosity…

Tamara Cotman…

Did she read this somewhere …because she obviously has not applied it to her life…and she is surely not modeling the behavior…

chillywilly

February 19th, 2011
8:30 pm

@Top School – Don’t EVER give up. I believe you and know that’s it’s just a matter of time that all of these APS rogues will be on the street. Keep the heat on. Reich, Augustine, Cotman, Hall, Burbridge, Sohrab, Bromery, Payne, Few…….. GET OUT!!!

Fab 5 Board Members, do not let that “Step Up” special interest group intimidate you. They are selfish and their main objective is to maintain the status quo. English & Ell, go on the offensive. We got your back. Get rid of Beverly Hall IMMEDIATELY!!!!! Clean house NOW!!

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:30 pm

@ Chilly Willy

Word on the street is that APS Central Office abolished an entire department in the Finance Division after they reported details of fraud & coverup to Beverly Hall & top administrators.

And Reich is tangled into this too…

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:35 pm

The BLOG ABOUT NATALIE MUNROE said …Her principal was not happy when she admitted that she had written the blogs and the comments about students being “out of control,” and “rude, lazy, disengaged whiners.” She is suspended with pay while the Bucks County system decides her future.

In most investigation processes..
they SUSPEND the Teacher while there is an investigation…but the ADMINISTRATION of APS remains in their position?

How is this allowed?

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:42 pm

What can they take from me?
They’ve already taken my profession, my reputation, my life’s savings…my faith in a fair judicial system…

I’ll stand here on my stack of APS documents that show how corrupt they are…and peel back and expose each layer until I take my last breath.

Divine Justice

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:43 pm

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:46 pm

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

Top School

February 19th, 2011
8:51 pm

They took my career, position, faith in a fair judicial system, faith in their due process and belief in a democratic system…

but Divine Justice has stepped in…

Ed Johnson

February 19th, 2011
9:10 pm

There has been quite of bit talk about Hell, lately.

In fact, “Hell” was the topic of my brief monologue at Monday’s Atlanta school board Community Meeting. I offered that lately I had been thinking of going to Hell for a visit and wondering if any of them or the superintendent would care to come along.

But if none of them was interest in going to visit Hell, alternately I offered to sponsor their or a teacher’s or a student’s participation in the 17th Annual International Deming Research Seminar, March 21-22, Fordham University at Lincoln Center, New York. So far, none of them has expressed interest in either going to Hell or to the seminar.
Seminar details… http://tinyurl.com/62kf4qf

A former colleague whose home is adjacent to Hell says the place is quite beautiful. The burning pits of fire are long gone, he says.

Oh. An interesting factoid, maybe: It seems the word “hall” derives from the word “hell.” And, of course, “hall” has the base meaning “to cover, to conceal.”

Top School

February 19th, 2011
9:27 pm

Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine encouraged them to push parents and students to take sides in an escalating school board divide inspired by the allegations of cheating on the CRCT by some APS schools.

Reich took the same action at WARREN T. JACKSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL…
Promising parents she would give them recommendations for PRIVATE SCHOOL APPLICATIONS
and teachers EMPLOYEE COMP TIME…Supplies, and their choice of future positions…grade level positions, the current Assistant Principal, Patrice Austin…and helped the current Morningside Elementary School Principal with her position.

Every teacher on staff was questioned as to “what do you know”…7 teachers resigned…those still on staff or remaining with REICH LOYALTY have paid the price in other ways.

APS Parent #2

February 19th, 2011
9:37 pm

Go State Go!!!

Your February 16th letter to Veleter M.B. Mazyck, Esq., General Counsel for Atlanta Public Schools is evidence that you are doing a thorough investigation. Why? Because it is independent, unlike the one conducted by the Blue Ribbon Commission courtesy of the Atlanta Education Fund, whose board members include among others Kathy Augustine (listen to her audio), LaChandra Butler Burks (Atlanta Board of Education Chair when CRCT issue first arose and “part of the 4”), Dr. Beverly Hall (reigning superintendent introduction needed), Reuben McDaniel III (Atlanta Board of Education member and “part of the 4”), Kathy Patillo (former Atlanta Board of Education member) and Mayor Kasim Reed (who is proposing 1 cent tax go solely to transportation and business interests rather than education & who is also seems interested in moving this board under city management {I vote NO for the city taking over the task of running the school system with his kind of focus – public education is too important in the long run to the city and the children to put on a streetcar and ride for political purposes and to cater to the business community}). Not to say that local school systems are not capable of conducting a top-notch internal investigation because a local one did just that and now is far beyond the 2009 CRCT Erasuregate.

If the state’s February 16th letter is any indication of what the final CRCT report will be in March, our heads will be spinning. If SACS’ stated causes for putting APS on accrediation probation for board dysfunction (essentially which really was nothing more than 5 board members putting down their “rubber-stamps” and asking real questions while 4 board members tried to keep the lights turned out {but then you wouldn’t be able to figure that out because the SACS report left a six month gap from the November elections until the June ouster}), then what will they do when there is no other conclusion to draw than the SYSTEM is dysfunctional?

For who continute to blindly support the 4 or support “erasing the 5,” you must not have children in APS; your children will be graduating soon; or you simply want to be part of the party with your favorite cocktail partner who happens to be an Atlanta Board of Education member or who is leading StepUporStepDown(do you hear the familiar clink of the glass yet?) Open your eyes. Things are not going to get any better until the cancer is cut out and we’ll see where that cancer is when the state investigation is completed. In the meantime, direct and hard-driving questions that keep the system from going further into the chasm of no-return should come out of the mouths of all 9 board members and not just the 5. That would be board cohesion in a way that should make SACS proud because it will save the system.

If the state determines evidence was withheld by the system or that the system tampered with witnesses or evidence, perhaps the state will get legally creative and use a conspiracy theory and hold anyone remotely connected with the mess responsible. If this kind of conduct were happening in a Fortune 50 company traded on Wall Street, the leaders would have been fired and there likely would be a few people who ended up in prison.

If APS or any of its teachers or staff have not done their jobs in teaching the children, they have robbed the children of their futures and the community of their hard paid property tax dollars. If APS used cooked up data to get federal funds, then they have robbed the government. If the evidence is there, then those responsible explicitly or implicitly for the “crime” should do the “time” or at least get out of the teaching profession.

The AJC cannot make up this kind of text or a story, so APS, you need to take the blame where it falls when the state report is issued.

Are there enough seats in private school to go around? If this does not turn around, then APS will end up like Clayton County.

A Pure Angel

February 19th, 2011
9:48 pm

Well, APS is not the only county that is playing the games of threats, etc. DCSS has been asking their principals who are they not going to renew contract for. This is mainly in those schools that did not make AYP last year. Well, the county has not made AYP in years. The curriculum is not set to meet the needs and basic structure of the student learning process. Each county designs it own curriculm & pacing based upon the state standards.

DCSS is more concerned with giving raises to those who are the ones that really need their contracts non-renewable or renewed. No one in either of these counties care truly about how you make AYP just that it looks good on paper. If the truth be known they really don’t care about the students either. This is the reason academic failure will continue. If you think we have cheating problems now Race to the Top is going really create a whole new and higher level of cheating. This will encourage and promote a master minded clear cut way to cheat. The feds are concerned with over weight children instead of the real roots of academic problems. They come to visit and are escorted to the seemingly perfect schools where all of the students are coachable (to say all of the right things, not the facts).

Yes, I am off on a little tange however, cheating is now becoming a huge part of academia and it is being forced because of what is at steak – money, the root of all EVIL!

catlady

February 19th, 2011
9:51 pm

APS has been subverting all the “investigations”,all along. From the beginning.

ScienceTchr: Armenian? Hebrew?

Wilma

February 19th, 2011
9:59 pm

If the APS board is to have any credibility, they must fire Hall now. I have called for a criminal investigation from the beginning and for hall’s termination. The time is now!!

APS Parent #2

February 19th, 2011
10:02 pm

For those who haven’t read it, they need to read the February 16th three page letter from the Office of the Governor Special Investigations to Veleter M.B. Mazyck, Esq., General Counsel for Atlanta Public Schools. The articles written about it do it no justice.

The state is doing an investigation and it sounds like the system really is not only unhappy with it, but they are getting in the way. That should come as no surprise to those who follow APS and understand what happened in the six-month gap not covered in SACS’ report on board dysfunction.

Seems to me that SACS got the report wrong and should have focused its ire on any board member who was not asking hard-driving questions to the leadership in APS. Unfortunately, that report is the only information many parents on the north side of town have read because the CRCT issue is not their issue, and they’ll tell you it isn’t. They just care that their cocktail buddy and cohorts are not happy with those who stopped rubber-stamping sometime back in March when the dirt started to float to the surface.

It may prove that this myopic focus is fairly naive and short-sighted. If the state determines the system is dysfunctional; the system has broken federal laws using false data; or you can continue this train of thought, then the CRCT may be the match that lights the fire that burns down the high schools too (translation meaning the loss of accrediation).

Come on StepUpStepDown, join in to support all of the children in Atlanta and not just those on the northside of town. You can’t say you represent the entire city, while keeping a straight face with the words the “CRCT is not an issue” coming out of your mouth. The CRCT is the system’s and the city’s issue, so it is your issue too. Or are any of your group involved with “Erasuregang”?

Rather than spinning your wheels on trying to “erase board members,” reach out to your elected board member and make sure that he or she puts down his or her rubber-stamps, opens his or her eyes, and sees the picture in time to address the issues in a meaningful way.

SACS is watching how the board addresses this issue and the stakeholders need to hold all 9 board members’ feet to the fire even if it means that the current superintendent or members of her staff leave before the spring break.

There is no alternative. Private schools in Atlanta do not have the physical space to accomodate all of APS’ high school students (even though the high school teachers and staff might happily leave the system to work somewhere else).

Concerned taxpayer

February 19th, 2011
10:09 pm

Maureen, I’m glad you got away with your kids this past week but I really missed your take on school issues as they arose during that time. You really make a difference.

OldSouth

February 19th, 2011
10:15 pm

It would appear Atlanta’s days in the sun of calling itself world-class are over. The signs of decline are rapid and seem to be increasing by the month. If I’m right all you can say is “Well, we had a good run.” Time to move folks.