Was there ever a question about whether cheating educators would keep their APS jobs?

UPDATE: Report is now online

I didn’t think there would be any question about this, but the APS board and interim Superintendent Erroll Davis felt it necessary to hold a press conference today to declare that system employees who cheated on state tests will lose their jobs.

“Anyone who cheated or was responsible will not work in front of children in Atlanta again,” said Davis, flanked by the majority of the APS Board of Education.

According to the AJC:

Board members said they expect immediate action once all the information is available, but board chairman Brenda Muhammad said the board will look ahead, “committed to making sure this never, ever happens again.”

Although the board has a lot to discuss and has not seen the report yet, Muhammad said it is focused on moving forward. That “doesn’t mean beating up Beverly Hall,” she said.

Gov. Nathan Deal warned Tuesday morning “there will be consequences” for educators who cheated in Atlanta Public Schools.

In a news conference at the state Capitol, Deal said that three district attorneys, interim Superintendent Erroll Davis and the state educator licensing board are receiving full copies of a detailed report submitted by special investigators that lays out a decade of organized, systemic cheating in the Atlanta district.

Deal did not release the report, instead providing the media with a two-page summary.  He said the report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 Atlanta schools they examined.

“The report’s findings are troubling, but I am encouraged this investigation will bring closure to problems that existed in the Atlanta public schools,” Deal said. “I am confident that brighter days lie ahead.”

Deal cut questions from the media off after 10 minutes and would not allow the two special investigators present, former Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson, to answer any questions.

Deal said the state Attorney General’s office is considering whether Deal’s office should release the full report.

Deal said he could not discuss any district employees the report accuses of wrongdoing or talk about what criminal charges might apply. Asked whether former Superintendent Beverly Hall, who stepped down at the end of her contract Thursday, should be penalized, he said “that is not a determination for me to make.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

77 comments Add your comment

Shar

July 5th, 2011
3:26 pm

Lose their jobs? Yes, along with their pensions and any bonuses received. Any APS employee who participated in organizing or directing or condoning cheating should also lose their freedom. Period.

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
3:33 pm

I want some of what they are smoking downtown today.

APSparent

July 5th, 2011
3:35 pm

That “doesn’t mean beating up Beverly Hall,” she said…On the contrary, I think there should be a huge beatdown on Ms. Hall — legally — she was in charge and she gained the most from this entire debacle. She just walks away? Really?!

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
3:36 pm

And how can they not release the report? Isn’t that a non-option under the Open Records Act? Parents and taxpayers need to know whether this has affected their children. Did it happen at my school? I don’t know, because Deal is hogging the info.

Missy

July 5th, 2011
3:44 pm

Shar

July 5th, 2011
3:47 pm

The Metro Chamber members who handpicked the “Blue Ribbon Commission” and who dictated the results should also be investigated for complicity in this huge fraud. Those who were party to directing the cheating or who knew after the fact and assisted in the coverup should be barred from doing business with any public entity in the State and should be indicted under RICO.

These folks, whether BOE, APS brass or the Metro Chamber coven, are powerful, wealthy people who believed that their own interests trumped those of Atlanta’s children or the parents and taxpayers who support them. If they are not brought to account, they will continue to rape the system and victimize those less powerful than they are. Personal financial ruin and jail time, as unthinkable as those may be to the rich and well-connected, may help to ward off other similar vampires in the future. Ignoring is, or as Ms. Muhammad (who oversaw this fiasco from her years and years on the BOE) says ‘focusing on the future”, will only open us to more of the same.

BOE members who should have known and tried their best to cover this up are just as complicit. Recall them, indict them and imprison them.

Kira Willis

July 5th, 2011
3:48 pm

I agree; we should not beat up Beverly Hall. We should, as taxpayers, make sure that she is charged with wrongdoing.

only fair

July 5th, 2011
3:52 pm

I agree with Shar. They- all the cheaters- should lose jobs, pensions,and be made to pay back ANY and ALL bonuses already received- Beverly hall included. Then there should be some TIME to be SERVED for this horrific crime against our children.

Where's the Report

July 5th, 2011
3:52 pm

I don’t need anyone to water down the report and feed me the strained version. As a citizen of this state, I want the option to read the entire document for myself and come to my own conclusions.

redweather

July 5th, 2011
3:55 pm

Board chairman Brenda Muhammad said the board will look ahead, “committed to making sure this never, ever happens again.”

Although the board has a lot to discuss and has not seen the report yet, Muhammad said it is focused on moving forward. That “doesn’t mean beating up Beverly Hall,” she said.

It is rather interesting that without even seeing the report Muhammad seems committed to making sure Beverly Hall is in the clear.

Null

July 5th, 2011
3:56 pm

“Anyone who cheated or was responsible will not work in front of children in Atlanta again,” said Davis, flanked by the majority of the APS Board of Education.

This doesn’t say that the folks will be fired…What’s the likelihood that many wind up at the BOE main office shuffling papers and drawing an income, while this whole fiasco winds through the legal system

Doris M

July 5th, 2011
3:56 pm

Yes, where’s the report? As a taxpayer I should have authority to access the report, after all my money helped pay for it.

chillywilly

July 5th, 2011
3:58 pm

Not only should we beat up on Beverly Hall, but we should also beat up Kasim Reed, Mark Elgart of SACS, The Chamber of Commerce, Lachandra Burks, Shirley Franklin and anyone else who took part or covered up this crime.

tim

July 5th, 2011
3:58 pm

Say What?? Board Chair Bev Muhammad, without even seeing the cheating report, says they shouldn’t beat up Beverly Hall.

Mw Muhammad is uninformed, uneducated, and unfit to be on the Atlanta Board of Cheating ducation!!

Top School

July 5th, 2011
4:01 pm

And remember this…there will come a day when everyone in this circle…including all those in the AJC turning a blind eye will account for their actions or lack of action. The man/ woman in the mirror will be held accountable…through your children or grand-children…you will receive the energy back to you ten fold…

Your silence will appear someday…and you will remember these words.

tar and feathers party

July 5th, 2011
4:03 pm

The mafia will just give them back office jobs where they have no contact with children, but keep all their pay and perks, mark my words.

S. Smith

July 5th, 2011
4:07 pm

Beverly Hall pressured teachers and priciples to bring up the scores. Unfortunately some of them cheated. She NEVER changed a grade and believe me…..she will not serve any time. The woman tried to Help …NOT HURT ANYONE. She did not bring on this fiasco intentionally . It’s amazing that she is being HATED ON to this degree. Folish people cannot see this whole issue was brought on because she demanded excellance. This is deep rooted and has to be explored by more than the GBI!

dixiedemons

July 5th, 2011
4:09 pm

This is standard for he state of Georgia. We are addicted to low morals and misguided value systems as long as someone is making money or having fun.

JohnsCreekMom

July 5th, 2011
4:11 pm

Losing their jobs is one thing. Pulling their certification so that they cannot teach or work in any other administrative area of education, in ANY state is something that really needs to happen. Also, being reported to the Professional Standards Commission should be mandatory. I truly feel for the teachers who were probably pressured into doing something they didn’t want to do. There obviously was a culture that bred distrust and intimidation. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have this looming over your head for years not knowing who you could talk to and who you couldn’t. Parents, arm yourselves with questions for the Board to address. What will this mean for the start of school in August with at least 38 principals losing their jobs? If you haven’t been involved in your child’s education, get in there now. It is imperative. And I’m talking to the parents of all APS schools. The ones in the ‘hood where 95 percent of the kids are black. Not just the parents of the five schools where cheating probably didn’t occur. Those parents should be upset also, but those children (all ethnicities) will get their education regardless through summer programs, private tutors, and educated parents who know how to keep their children on track. APS took advantage of the rest of the district’s low-income, not-highly educated parents. Shame on them! They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At the very least, seizing their pensions and bonuses.

I'm a Taxpayer

July 5th, 2011
4:15 pm

@S. Smith, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s absolutely amazing that the no-nonsense attitude with which she governed the system has been twisted into some organized criminal activity.

From day one, Hall said teach these students — and here are the resources to help — or else! The message wasn’t to cheat. It was to do what you have to do — stay late; get on the phone to parents; visit homes; provide students with before, during or after extra instruction; give them tutoring; constantly monitor their progress; take advantage of professional development yourself — to make sure OUR CHILDREN LEARN.

A Former APS Teacher

July 5th, 2011
4:17 pm

Yikes… I got out of APS years ago, but this makes me nervous because innocent teachers may get the boot! The tests may have the teacher’s name on it, but the admin staff (principal & coaches) would take the tests and make the “necessary changes”…

Mark

July 5th, 2011
4:23 pm

I think that absence any “smoking gun” that shows Ms. Hall directed activities involved in the cheating, the only legal path to finding her guilty of something lays in obstruction of justice. From day one, she claimed this was not a cheating problem and from a PR perspective, did everything in her power to make the message throughout the process. The question is, did she do more than just put up a PR smokescreen. Did her and her people actively hinder the investigation.

I look forward to getting my hands on the full report to see a more full picture. I also want to see of the 180 or so people they have identified, are there any in the central office downtown or are they all in individual schools.

Ms. Hall has left a shameful legacy but unfortunately, she rides off into the sunset with a fat bank account and a fat pension (and she will likely make big $$ on the education lecture and convention circuit) while she hurt thousands of children that it was her sole duty to protect and educate.

….and the entire school board needs to resign TODAY. This took place right under their noses and yet they somehow see it as progress that they have elected someone as the President of the BOE who was in that job previously. I have listened to Ms. Muhammad speak at several public meetings and she says absolutely NOTHING. By that I mean she talks, and attempts to answer questions but her answers are empty generalities (i.e. “this board will be looking forward” an “not beating up on Beverly Hall”).

Please all of you, resign for the good of our children and our city and allow someone else to clean up the mess you have not only created but failed miserably at trying to clean up.

TeachMom

July 5th, 2011
4:24 pm

I feel sorry for the innocent teachers who may be caught up in this. I teach at a high school and we weren’t allowed to bubble in the number of students we tested during EOCT. Why? I can count the number of kids who are sitting right in my face. The AP claimed that they needed to add Special Ed kids in. Again, why? I didn’t test them so why would they be added to my count? I have no doubt that there are many guilty parties here but there are probably some innocent ones in the mix.

Cliff Claven

July 5th, 2011
4:25 pm

How about the Blue Ribbon Commission who found no wrong doing? There should be some punishment for them as well since they tried to cover it up as well.

Former SPARK parent

July 5th, 2011
4:27 pm

@I’m a taxpayer: actually, it was an organized–and premeditated–criminal activity to hide from reporters (and others) the Porter Report, which would have hastened the emergence of damning facts–and, probably, Hall’s departure from office. You may not be able (or willing) to grasp the degree to which Hall preyed on children. But at least, unlike S. Smith, you have spell-check.

Former APS Teacher

July 5th, 2011
4:28 pm

Open Records Act anyone? I think the public has the right to know exactly what this investigation entails! Does the governor have the right to withhold public documents from tax paying citizens??

As a former teacher in APS, several of us had to put our necks on the line just so the truth could be known. I believe everyone has the right to know the truth. Thoughts?

Private School Guy

July 5th, 2011
4:30 pm

I concur with Mark the entire BOE should resign this happened on their watch. The central office staff needs a complete housecleaning. An the report needs to be made public as son as possible.

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
4:35 pm

I too am a former APS employee. I worked in the worst middle school on the “severe” list. For pure revenge purposes I would love to see my old prinicpal being escorted to the pokie in handcuffs. This guy was promoted once the sh1t hit the fan. Seriously? I am so happy for myself that I got out. But these students… APS Leadership: Pimping Their Way Across the Achievement Gap.

I'm a Taxpayer

July 5th, 2011
4:36 pm

The blue ribbon commission should be punished? Boy, the witch hunt is gaining speed now.

The facts are that the blue ribbon commission DID find evidence of wrongdoing. And as has been MISREPORTED by nearly EVERY LOCAL MEDIA OUTLET, Hall said BACK IN AUGUST 2011 these very words: “We have evidence that some of our own may have violated the public trust.” Hall devoted her ENTIRE STATE OF THE SCHOOLS ADDRESS to this topic.

She acknowledged unethical employee behavior almost a year ago. And then the district went to work to make sure the testing conditions were air tight.

chillywilly

July 5th, 2011
4:38 pm

While they’re cleaning house, please clean up APS Finance Division. CFO Chuck Burbridge and every one of his managers need to be terminated right now! Let’s start over with a clean slate.

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
4:39 pm

All right, Kathy Augustine aka I’m A Taxpayer. You can go away now.

Maureen Downey

July 5th, 2011
4:42 pm

@Former, There are legal exemptions to Open Records. I would argue that this isn’t one of them, although personnel matters are a legal exemption. Not sure of the legal underpinnings here but believe the AG will rule in favor of disclosure.
Maureen

Dirk

July 5th, 2011
4:42 pm

That “doesn’t mean beating up Beverly Hall,” she said.

Now what’s to be made of that comment? If it means we won’t leap to judgment before all the facts are in that’s one thing. If it means the board is circling the wagons around her that’s unacceptable.

Maureen Downey

July 5th, 2011
4:43 pm

@Cliff, The commission did recommend 110 employees to the PSC. I would suspect those 110 are included in the 178, so the state probe added 68 people to the roster.
Maureen

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
4:45 pm

@chillwilly – don’t forget all the SRT head honcho’s. And then all of those project grad coaches. Go ahead and scrap that whole program, completely worthless. SFA what a joke. It’s just an excuse to hire friends who no one else in their right mind would employ.

BTW, Hall and Friends have been on a witch hunt for the past eleven or twelve years or however long she’s been the grand poobah. Turn about is fair play.

Concerned Parent

July 5th, 2011
4:47 pm

My daughter is a student at Coretta Scott King middle school. Does anyone know why the news keep showing that school in the background as they talk about the cheating scandal? I am worried. Should I be prepared to get her a transfer?

Shar

July 5th, 2011
4:48 pm

Would that be the same Kathy Augustine who dismissed the AJC’s initial review of the “improbably high CRCT scores” as “expected outliers”?

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
4:48 pm

@ Concerned Parent – From what I know about that school, I would say emphatically “yes you should be down there transferring right now.”

Former teacher

July 5th, 2011
4:49 pm

No principal or administrator named should keep their job – period. There is NO excuse for them. They should be fired and lose pensions. Captains accept responsibility and go down with the ship. Teachers (who were probably just following instructions) should be allowed to keep their jobs, but should “start over” as first year teachers, losing all accrued pension and salary increases. That level of response might convince me that someone actually wants to improve the situation. It would also send a powerful message to all future administrators.

Lucy

July 5th, 2011
4:49 pm

That’s the one, Shar. The same one who said allegations of cheating were “bizarre” and got busted for it.

Concerned Parent

July 5th, 2011
4:51 pm

Cliff Claven

July 5th, 2011
5:03 pm

I’m a taxpayer,

Sorry, just trying to live up to the business world hype. They only found 60% of the cheaters. By business standards that is a failure and we should replace the whole system.

Jennifer Falk

July 5th, 2011
5:14 pm

Show me a school district in Georgia (urban, suburban, rural) that will say that they are confident their district is not systemically manipulating student data to reflect better testing outcomes. I would include systems to consider – actual erasures , removal of students to disciplinary alternative schools, withdrawing students so their test scores do not count and a thousand other strategies that are out there. Show me even one district that will step up to the plate. I am not talking about onsies and twosie manipulation – I am talking about systemic manipulation.
.
This does not lessen my complete distaste for what has occurred in Atlanta – but it is a call for widespread acknowledgment that local boards of education and districts need oversight beyond parents. Local control is anything but a panacea when it comes to oversight. And now we see why local control is so off limits by school districts and elected officials. Cheating students on simple erasures took almost a decade to come to light. And guess what – I bet parents had an inkling the entire time, but no one listened to them.

Dekalbite

July 5th, 2011
5:43 pm

What about the teachers who were let go because their test scores were not as good as the cheaters? Will APS hire them back and compensate them?

What kind of message does it send to teachers when the first group terminates teachers who DO NOT cheat and then the second group terminates teachers who DO cheat?

Old Physics Teacher

July 5th, 2011
5:53 pm

I guarantee you the same thing will happen here just the same as in any major scandal. The only people who will lose their jobs are the people at the sharp end of the stick (in this case: the teachers and a few assistant principals). No one above school level will even get a reprimand. The “bosses” (Hall and her ENTIRE staff) are to blame and ONLY THEM. The poor teachers at the sharp end had an ethics problem – I agree. Let’s see how you respond when your boss tells you to do something impossible, and if you don’t, you’ll be put in an untenable situation. Now I’m not defending them and saying they did nothing wrong. They violated their code of ethics and need punishment. On the other hand, if they didn’t falsify the tests, other bad things would have happened to them. They made a choice between two evils. I’m sure I know how I would have acted. I’d have told the principal to “take this job and…”

Actually…, I hear variations on this theme every day from teenagers telling me how they would have responded in a similar situation. My response to them is, “Walk a mile in those people’s shoes, Then tell me how you would have responded.” It’s one thing, in hindsight, to tell me how you WOULD HAVE responded, when you have no clue what that person was going through. It’s something else entirely to actually have to live through the experience.

I’d make sure every member of Beverly Hall’s staff – including her – was prevented from EVER working in education again before the first “little guy” had any discipline action taken against them. (That includes Michelle Rhee and her team of cheaters, too!!)

Dekalb Oldtimer

July 5th, 2011
6:09 pm

Uh-oh ! Wafting through the air around the gold dome : The winds of “OMG we’ve got to do something before GA appears to be , hm-m-m-m,both desperate and incorrigible!

Laurie

July 5th, 2011
6:15 pm

S. Smith wrote: The woman tried to Help …NOT HURT ANYONE. She did not bring on this fiasco intentionally[.]”

Well, let’s just assume for one moment that she actually, sincerely, ignorant; she was just so incompetent that she didn’t know what was going on. If that were true, you’d think the very first thing she’d be doing right now is offering back 100% of the bonuses she received as a result of fraud. I know that if some day my kids give me a nice new car as a gift (… and I never ask how they got the money to buy it on minimum wage jobs, and I attack friends of theirs who come to tell me about the theft because I can’t believe they’d do such a thing …), and then I later find out, definitively, that they stole the car, well, of course, I’d immediately offer to return the car, wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t wait to be sued for its return.

Maybe if she and any other administrators who received bonuses based on fraud returned those bonuses, there would be a little bit of money to throw into the big pot we’ll need to start providing remediation for the kids who were harmed. Or to help compensate the whistle blowers who not only “tried to Help [but, unlike Hall et al, did not] hurt anyone,” but were instead hurt. Or those who perhaps lost jobs or compensation or whatever because they wouldn’t cheat. Aren’t all of these more deserving recipients of that bonus money?

It would be a small, small drop in the bucket, but it would be something; it would be some small, small hint of good faith on the part of Hall and other administrators (well, it would have been if she’d done it before there was a real potential that she will be sued for it anyway). But it doesn’t seem that the women who just “tried to help” wants to help in any effective way.

Shar

July 5th, 2011
6:30 pm

S. Smith, according to the Associated Press’ analysis of the report, Hall did indeed know of the cheating, chose to ignore it and persecuted whistleblowers.

She lied, stole and connived to stick lots of lovely money in her pockets at the tiny cost of selling out the children of this city. She needs to be tried, stripped of her blood money and put in jail.

Wondering

July 5th, 2011
6:30 pm

I don’t expect to see the report until the attorneys determine what charges to file. This report is the result of a criminal investigation. I don’t believe we normally release those reports before the charges are filed. We don’t want to taint the potential jury pool.

Write Your Board Members

July 5th, 2011
6:48 pm

In DeKalb, they would keep their jobs and a letter would be sent to employees instructing them to forgive the bad behavior. It happened, though the principal in question resigned.