Dr. Hall: I knew nothing about cheating in Atlanta schools.

Beverly Hall says she was unaware of cheating in her schools. (AJC photo)

Beverly Hall says she was unaware of cheating in her schools. (AJC photo)

In a statement through her attorney today, a vacationing Beverly Hall — reportedly in Hawaii — says she was unaware of widespread cheating in the school system that she oversaw for 12 years.

“Apparently, not one of the 82 persons who allegedly ‘confessed’ to cheating told the investigators that Dr. Hall at any time instructed, encouraged or condoned cheating,” said attorney Richard Deane in a statement. “The report’s conclusion that Dr. Hall actually knew of any such cheating is based entirely on supposition. The further conclusion that Dr. Hall ’should have known’ rests on negative inferences from selective, circumstantial evidence.”

No, it doesn’t. There is real evidence in the report that Hall and  her staff ignored or discredited bona fide complaints of cheating, especially when the allegations were about high-scoring schools that were winning accolades.  The report shows a willful effort within APS to maintain the pretense that Hall was a miracle-worker.

But Hall  had other evidence that  suggested something was amiss –  tangible evidence that the high scoring students at Parks Middle, for example, did poorly on state math exams in high school. In the report, the cheating at Parks sounds like something out a CIA covert action manual with clandestine missions to steal tests  and trumped excuses to lure the honest testing coordinator out of the building.

After a visit to Parks with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, I looked at the End of Course Test math scores for the high school in the feeder. Scores were awful. APS could have looked at whether similarly high performing middle school students from other schools saw their scores tumble so markedly in high school.

Two years ago, I asked Dr. Hall about whether there was any effort to reconcile astounding middle school performance on the CRCT with high school performance, She said that the students could not be followed to high school because they didn’t necessarily move as a group to the same school. But a system that was “data driven,” as Dr. Hall often described APS, should have looked more deeply at waves of students who soared to unprecedented heights in middle school only to crash in high school.

Hall wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to look too closely at fantastic results. Many top education foundations, including the Annie E. Casey, Gates and Broad foundations, celebrated the data coming out of APS.

I talked today to Steve Dolinger, former Fulton superintendent and head of the Georgia Partnership, about whether groups, including his own, which featured Parks on its bus tour of great schools, failed to do their due diligence.

“We relied on data that was published on the DOE website,” he said. “When we look at the data, we don’t think there is wrongdoing. We have no supposition that cheating is going on.”

But there will be far more scrutiny now of meteoric rises in school performance, he said. “This whole situation is going to cast doubt on success, especially rapid success. When success happens quickly, you are going to have to ask questions about what was going on.”

I think there is plenty of blame to go around, including the media, but I have to wonder about the role of the state Department of Education. The agency mandates and administers all these tests. Should the agency make any effort to validate scores? If not, how can it eventually use the scores to reward or punish teachers?

In a joint 2003 investigation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/WSB Channel 2 Action News found that Gwinnett underreported its student discipline data to the state Department of Education by at least 85 percent. When the AJC questioned the incomplete and inaccurate discipline reports, DOE said that it only collected the data; it not review and verify it. I am not sure why the state collects data and then says it can’t vouch for it.

In 2004, the AJC did another major APS investigation, this one on the system’s blatant waste of technology dollars. The AJC series documented that Atlanta Public Schools misspent or mismanaged nearly $73 million from a national program intended to give poor children access to the Internet. At the time, Hall defended her lack of attention to technology, saying she was spending all her time focusing on classroom academics.

Apparently, she didn’t focus enough.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

155 comments Add your comment

Out of the Bag

July 6th, 2011
6:36 pm

Beyond pathetic.

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
6:36 pm

She did’nt know nuffins.

Out of the Bag

July 6th, 2011
6:37 pm

No one rats in the ghetto, bro.

Awaiting moderation

July 6th, 2011
6:37 pm

That’s because she was to busy running around collecting awards…everybody else in the system seemed to know…read the report Cupcake
I Bev is vacationing in Hawaii, you forgot to take your Chief of Staff Sharon Pitts with you…PITTS must go!!

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
6:42 pm

I saw a post yesterday that said it all. When did the Governor all of sudden become concerned about education in S Atlanta Schools, and that the students coming from that culture are unteachable, so the teachers just did what they had to do. What all the concern?

Another Voice

July 6th, 2011
6:42 pm

I hope the Board can manage to function enough in the coming weeks to authorize Erroll Davis to make sweeping changes in personnel. There are plenty of honest people in the education profession who need work – get rid of those principals now, FOR CAUSE, and don’t give them a role in the Central Office. They lied, cheated and broke laws. No need to give them severance or find a make-work position for them.

not telling

July 6th, 2011
6:43 pm

I’m sorry, but nobody with a brain believes she didn’t know.

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
6:49 pm

I don’t think this is pathetic, it really is nothing out of character from pretty much anything that happens in S Atlanta. I find it funny all the libtards getting up in arms once they realized they have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by dumping truckloads of cash down the bottomless pit. Kinda like Obama’s 800B stimulus package. No, I don’t think it is pathetic at all, it is typical.

Out of the Bag

July 6th, 2011
6:49 pm

Now we will see the true abilities of these students, and it won’t be pretty, year after year. Why did they cheat? Because even they realize that many in their own culture are absolutely incapable of achieving success on these tests. Soon, before its too late, we are going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.

Incredulous

July 6th, 2011
6:49 pm

The problem begins with allowing the title Ed. D. These are psuedo doctorates that , I believe, falsely create a sense of competency and academic intregity for the individual. The PSC and state have allowed these programs to run rampant in the schools. The legislature had no qualms suspending pay for National Certification. I suggest that the legislature immediately revoke pay differential for any Masters, Ed Specialist, and Ed.D, that is not teaching in field, including administrators who attained their degree outside of their degreed field. There are far too many former truck drivers masquerading as teachers with mail order degrees.

Shocked at this

July 6th, 2011
6:50 pm

Wow- Maureen, this is amazing! Your normal “wait and see” approach infuriates me. However, you redeemed yourself here.

say what?

July 6th, 2011
6:51 pm

If she did not know then the staff attorney exceeded on her job performance of “deniability”. All of them should be fired, pensions and bonues taken. That money needs to go into a trust fund for these students who want to go to vocational/trade school, but cannot master the DS classes.

mystery poster

July 6th, 2011
6:52 pm

From yesterday’s blog: “…79 percent of fourth-graders fail the math portion of the state curriculum in the spring of 2000 saw 85 percent pass in 2001. The same school went from more than half of the students failing reading to 85 percent passing.

I could have told you right then and there that cheating was involved. Those kinds of increases just don’t happen.

So, (playing devil’s advocate), if Dr. Hall didn’t know there was cheating going on, she certainly is stupid.

Awaiting moderation

July 6th, 2011
6:52 pm

Maureen,
Nice balance with this article, you make many important points and actually take an objective view of Hall.

Maureen Downey

July 6th, 2011
6:53 pm

@Shocked, We did wait and now we have seen. And it’s pretty bleak.

PhillipMarlowe

July 6th, 2011
6:53 pm

JaQuan Jones

July 6th, 2011
6:54 pm

Dekalb County School System is chock full of these “Doctors” and boy to they liked to be called Doctor. What’s funny is these “Doctors” don;t have where they obtained their degree posted in their office, unless it is from a “real” school. I’m lookin at you South Dekalb.

RJ

July 6th, 2011
6:54 pm

It is evident that Dr. Hall was aware of cheating but decided to turn a blind eye to it. I am still astounded at what I read in the report. What the public should be aware of, is that this isn’t exclusive to APS. I have friends in other school systems that have discussed cheating in their schools.

Maureen, many schools underreport school suspensions. I’ve known students to be suspended, but it doesn’t show up on their discipline record. The parents are called and told that their child is suspended. I personally know of a student this happened to in a Fulton County school this past May. By not documenting the suspension, it appears that the school discipline record is better than what it is. Again, falsely reporting data. There is so much of this stuff occuring in our schools that I could write a book.

tim

July 6th, 2011
7:01 pm

Bev is vacationing in Hawaii. Strange time to go to Hawaii. She might be really hiding in Racist Joe Lowerys basement or smokin more crack with Shirley Franklin.

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
7:03 pm

The best is the one principal who is both a Dr, and a Reverend, who is also the “epitome” (great word) of pretty much everything “Atlanta”.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 6th, 2011
7:04 pm

“I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t read anything.”

That’s my story and my shyster tells me that we’re sticking to it.

ScienceTeacher671

July 6th, 2011
7:05 pm

“known or should have known” still means she’s culpable.

Over It

July 6th, 2011
7:06 pm

I’ve been an APS teacher for 20 plus years and cheating was rampant at my school in 1989. My principal told us to do whatever possible to make scores, but if there were an investigation, she would look the other way. What is coming out isn’t just a result of Beverly Hall but a long standing problem that has come to a head. While I work at an APS school that isn’t under the current radar, none of this surprises me. This system is lead by ego maniacs that care more about themselves, scores, money, and not children. Shame on APS.

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
7:07 pm

400k per year does not mean she should know what is going on.

Shocked at this

July 6th, 2011
7:14 pm

Yes, you did. I also applaud your assertion that state agencies should be required to validate information presented to them. Well put.

Having worked for APS for too many years to count (at schools with very low WTR erasures I feel obligated to say), I suspected cheating happened in parts of the district. The warning signs were there as outlined in the report. For those of us who lived this-even at schools not accused of cheating-it is hard for us to understand how anyone can have any doubts. But I understand those who require proof before reaching this conclusion.

Dekalbite@Maureen

July 6th, 2011
7:17 pm

“I think there is plenty of blame to go around, including the media, but I have to wonder about the role of the state Department of Education.”

I agree Maureen.

The Georgia DOE is filled with many past administrators from DeKalb. It would be interesting to see how many there are from APS. Adding up the expenditure on GA DOE personnel from the State Salary and Travel audit for 2008, 2009 and 2010 shows that GA DOE personnel expenditures increased from 2008 to 2009 and even in 2010 cuts to GA DOE personnel funding was minimal.

From 2008 to 2010 GA DOE personnel expenditures were down by less than 3%. Meanwhile Perdue and the Legislature were cutting funding for the school systems by huge margins. The Georgia DOE did not take any real hit in funding for their personnel so they should have had plenty of people to analyze this data. Take a look at the GA DOE personnel funding during this recession and time of unprecedented school system funding:

2008 – $50,022,380 in salary (without considering benefits) and $3,404,299 for travel.

2009 – $51,182,442 in salary (without considering benefits) and $2,697,331 in travel

2010 – $48,590,037 in salary (without considering benefits) and $2,610,083 in travel

How could the Georgia DOE not know what the AJC discovered with far less people and far less experience in the field of education? These superintendents and other upper level managers in the school systems have many personal and professional ties with the GA DOE. Many DeKalb upper level managers have retired from DCSS, and now they work at the GA DOE in upper level management. It’s like a DCSS Retirement Home.

IMHO another big problem is the Georgia DOE website. Data is not published in a timely manner which makes it very difficult for any ordinary citizen to draw valid conclusions.

Here are a few examples of web pages that should have important data for at least 2010, and yet the data is missing.

Look at Title 1:

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2007

Title 1 Comm. of Practitioners Yearly Reports stops in 2007.

Title 1 System Report of AYP stops at 2009

AYP Reports stop at 2009
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ayp2009.aspx

The number of highly qualified teachers listed by schools in DeKalb has not been published since 2006-07:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2007

The number and percent of highly qualified teachers listed by Georgia school systems for 2010 is not even in a recognizable data format:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&StateId=ALL&T=1&FY=2010

bill

July 6th, 2011
7:31 pm

yea and obama dont lie

standoffish on race

July 6th, 2011
7:33 pm

Only racists would accuse such an outstanding educator and administrator of anything illegal. Leave her alone. She served us honorably for a long time, and she did improve the schools.

Resist all Gov. Deal’s attempts to put a White in charge. Might as we’ll bring back segregation.

Dekalb Oldtimer

July 6th, 2011
7:40 pm

Did Dr. Hall ever actually teach students before becoming an administrator? For a reasonable length of time?

I ask that because most, if not all alert, aware, insightful, cognizant teachers, know that the gains that were presented by APS schools just simply don’t happen!
Deniability? Stupidity? Avarice? Who knows, but …….

Mr Charlie

July 6th, 2011
7:40 pm

Standoffish, I agree, you guys need a reverend to take over the school system.

lynnbo

July 6th, 2011
7:41 pm

Her multi million dollar retirement should be stopped and the money put towards a army of lawyers to sue for the kids who have been cheated out of an education.
Fire everyone and hire an new private school company to at least give the Atlanta school system re-birth. If they don’t clean out this mess and all others, Georgia needs to start givng vouchers to all APS students. She will laugh all the way to the bank Atlanta………just like all the other cheaters.

Dekalb Oldtimer

July 6th, 2011
7:46 pm

It has been published that Dr. Hall’s directive to teachers/principals was ” to improve scores by any means necessary.” Uh-h-h-h sounds to me like a license/blank check/etc. to do anything necessary.

Independent

July 6th, 2011
7:50 pm

Deniability. “I don’t want to know, just give me the numbers I want”. The Ronald Reagan defense “I don’t remember”. Dr. Hall is the worst kind of administrator. I hope she gets charged with fraud and all her (falsely claimed) awards rescinded.

KenFromCalifornia

July 6th, 2011
7:56 pm

i wonder if during her interview for this job did beverly hall emphasize that she pays close attention.

or, was she honest back then and said to the school board that interviewed her that if anything illegal were to happen under her watch, she would be too clueless to even notice.

$400k in salary sure doesn’t buy much accountability. it does get your city on every newscast in the country (this story was featured on the hourly newsbreaks for abc & cbs radio stations nationwide all day yesterday and last night) if only in a negative way.

this scandal is a RICO-scale criminal enterprise that was designed solely to fatten the wallets of everyone who participated.

like corporate ceo’s who have their compensation tied to growth in the company stock price (and who conspire with arthur anderssen to cook the books so that the stock price keeps rising), beverly hall is the superintendant/ceo who had her subordinates cook the books to inflate test scores, so that she could then reap the financial bonuses for her so-called “success”.

it’s felony fraud. call the cops.

Atlanta mom

July 6th, 2011
7:56 pm

If Dr. Hall knew nothing, I think the citizens of Atlanta should be glad we don’t own a bridge in Brooklyn.

Paddy O

July 6th, 2011
8:01 pm

philip marlow – you so funny, authentically!

Nikole

July 6th, 2011
8:02 pm

Anyone with common sense could look at the data and know something was wrong. The Queen of Data should have known.

Paddy O

July 6th, 2011
8:03 pm

what procedures did Ms. Hall create to prevent cheating from occurring? If none, then she is culpable. BUT, so is the State BOE for not having already created state mandated procedures to prevent this type of cheating. ATL is pathetic. No wonder the AJC moved to Gwinnett.

Cobb bystander

July 6th, 2011
8:03 pm

Don’t stand near her in a thunderstorm so the lying lightning doesn’t strike you too!

Paddy O

July 6th, 2011
8:04 pm

looks like the entire atlanta public school system needs to be magically transformed into a charter school system.

NuMensa

July 6th, 2011
8:08 pm

Sounds a lot like Abu Gareb. What really is under that pile of data. If Lynndie England, no relation to the country, was convicted, then Ms. Hall? Hmmmm. Bluntly stated NCLB “gets the incentives wrong.” If we have a problem now, think about the shiny new initiatives tying teacher pay to performance. Sounds quite randy.

catlady

July 6th, 2011
8:09 pm

Gosh, don’t suggest the DOE check the info they are given! That would be millions more for them, redirected from the classrooms. Don’t suggest the DOE use any intelligence when they see the data, either. Deniability is the word!

The attorney is full of it. Period. Indict him, too.

Either B. Hall was the stupidest person on Earth, or she was crooked. And we know she isn’t stupid. How can her attorney with a straight face make the claims he did? How does he explain the cover-up?

Ed Johnson

July 6th, 2011
8:13 pm

“I think there is plenty of blame to go around, including the media, but I have to wonder about the role of the state Department of Education. The agency mandates and administers all these tests. Should the agency make any effort to validate scores? If not, how can it eventually use the scores to reward or punish teachers?”

Amazing. Just dang amazing. Here we are with this dang cheating scandle prompted by systems of reward and punishment yet the dang question “how can [the agency] eventually use the [test] scores to reward or punish teachers?” holds appeal as greatly as ever. Amazing. Just dang amazing.

School Leader

July 6th, 2011
8:13 pm

URGENT!!!!!
Please let the new Interim Supt. know that the likes, followers and disciples of Dr. Hall and Kathy Augustine are planted around him:
Joyce McCloud
Susan Dyer
Sharon Pitts
M. Few
etc…

Dr. Beverly Hall's Conscience

July 6th, 2011
8:14 pm

Smile though your heart is lying
Smile though you are reviled….
In time, it will go away
But the money will stay
And you’ll get you by……..

Seriously, Bev, we are vacationing in Hawaii and these poor fools who cheated (for the children) are holding the bag (ha! ha! ha!)

So close you eyes and sleep well under the moonglow!

School Leader

July 6th, 2011
8:16 pm

DO NOT TRUST YOUR TRANSITIONAL TEAM:
URGENT!!!!!
Please let the new Interim Supt. know that the likes, followers and disciples of Dr. Hall and Kathy Augustine are planted around him:
Joyce McCloud
Susan Dyer
Sharon Pitts
M. Few
etc…

parent

July 6th, 2011
8:20 pm

When will the state telease the yearly ayp results?

Dr. Beverly Hall's Conscience

July 6th, 2011
8:21 pm

Where is Nancy Grace when you need her? Hey, leave Casey Anthony alone!

School Leader

July 6th, 2011
8:23 pm

@ Mr. E. Davis (Interim Superintendent) -

DO NOT TRUST YOUR TRANSITIONAL TEAM:
URGENT!!!!!
Please let the new Interim Supt. know that the likes, followers and disciples of Dr. Hall and Kathy Augustine are planted around him:
Joyce McCloud
Susan Dyer
Sharon Pitts
M. Few
etc…

ScienceTeacher671

July 6th, 2011
8:37 pm

IMO, the State Dept. of Education is just as bad as Beverly Hall, or else why would they tell the parents of children working as much as 4 years below grade level that those children were “proficient” in reading and math?