Axe comes down on some APS leadership. El resigns.

The AJC reports some major developments today:

1. Khaatim Sherrer El announced his resignation in the continuing fallout from a cheating scandal that has overwhelmed Atlanta Public Schools. “I just concluded in the end it just shouldn’t be this hard to do the right things for kids,” El said, his voice wavering with emotion as he fought back tears. “I failed to protect thousands of children who come from homes like mine. It remains to be seen, no matter how deep this thing goes, whether the soul of Atlanta has been stirred.”

2. The four removed from area superintendent jobs — Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts, Robin Hall and Tamara Cotman –  were implicated in the scandal. Davis did not say whether they will remain with the district.

3. Davis also said that two year-round elementary schools named in a state investigative report made public last week will receive new principals before classes start Wednesday. Keisha Gibbons, former assistant principal at Centennial Place Elementary School, was named principal of Boyd Elementary; she replaces Emalyn Foreman. The new principal for Hutchinson Elementary will be named Tuesday, Davis said.

Earlier blog

WABE  radio reported early today that all APS school reform team executive directors had been placed on administrative leave. However, I called APS spokesman Keith Bromery about the report, and he told me the school board has only just gone into executive session and that he was unaware that such an action had been taken.

UPDATE: The report was later carried by TV, including Channel 2 Action News,which reported that the four declined the chance to resign and want public hearings on their cases. WSB-TV says the four — TAMARA COTMAN, ROBIN HALL, SHARON DAVIS-WILLIAMS AND MICHAEL PITTS — are represented by attorney George Lawson. Lawson told the TV station that the school leaders were told resign or be fired.

They chose termination.

In the meantime, Channel 2 Action News also has footage of former APS school chief Beverly Hall in Hawaii.  She doesn’t say much to the TV reporter and looks fatigued.

In addition, the AJC is reporting that Hall may lose her  Superintendent of the Year title, awarded to her in 2009 by the American Association of School Administrators.

UPDATE  at 6:20: Fox 5 is reporting that the four school reform team executive directors have been recommended for termination by the new school chief Erroll Davis, along with Rebecca Dashiell-Mitchell,  principal at Hutchinson Elementary, and Emalyn Foreman, principal at Boyd Elementary School.

According to the FOX5:

The School Resource Team reports directly to the superintendent, and the county is divided into four geographic areas comprised of elementary or middle schools. Each area has an SRT. Those SRTs are:

SRT 1 – Dr. Sharon Davis-Williams
SRT 2 – Michael Pitts
SRT 3 – Robin Hall
SRT 4 – Tamara Cotman

Sources tell FOX 5 the following new appointments will be made for those positions:

SRT 1 – Donnell Underdue
SRT 2 – Danielle Battle
SRT 3 – Betsy Bockman
SRT 4 – David White

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

146 comments Add your comment


July 12th, 2011
9:02 am

Play that race card. I guess that most of the students that will suffer for this are minorities. I guess that doesn’t matter.

Common Sense

July 12th, 2011
9:15 am

Where are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the NAACP in all of this? This is the biggest civil rights crisis in years – African American children being robbed of a quality education and assistance they are entitled to because of a corrupt school system. Interesting that we haven’t heard a peep from them.

not telling

July 12th, 2011
9:20 am

When you’re trash, expect to get taken out eventually.

David Sims

July 12th, 2011
9:23 am

@melanie, you wrote: “I know these are in bad areas of Atlanta but that should not make any difference in teaching these children right!!”

Why does Atlanta have “bad areas”?

Give It A Rest

July 12th, 2011
9:23 am

How long is the ajc going to keep running this story as breaking news? Enough already. The paper has become like a dog with a bone. The self-righteousness is a bit sickening. This scandal is just wonderful for the reputation of the city and state around the country. Why would businesses want to locate here? Economic recovery? Forget it. Stop beating a dead horse. After 2 weeks this isn’t headline news. Move on.

carla roqs

July 12th, 2011
9:36 am

common sense, 9:15 am– i agree.


July 12th, 2011
9:38 am

Where are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton & the NAACP?

Since there is no caucasion to shake down there will not be any action taken by the professional race hustlers at this time.

As long as African-American children get robbed of an education, the Democrat Party will continue to have supporters.

Why stop the trend?


July 12th, 2011
9:44 am

Its good that El is gone. That’s one more ego out of the way. If the 5 including El were really interested in the children, they wouldn’t have been spending their time fighting over the chairmanship. I don’t recall any complaints about the blue ribbon panel coverup until after the AJC exposed it for what it was. I don’t recall anyone asking for more cooperation or information. I don’t recall any of them questioning Hall. I don’t recall anyone asking Hall to step down. There are none of those 9 that should be re-elected. The sooner they are all gone, the better for the school system.

sally d

July 12th, 2011
9:50 am

There is still more work to do. In oder to change the entire culture in Aps the High Schools need to be investigated. Cheating on the GGT , principals treated high school teachers the same disrespecteful way that the elementary school teachers were treated. Joyce McCloud destroyed Career Ed and got away with it . She was nasty to teachers and allowed principals to do it to. She was ineffective and biased and only promoted those that she liked. Kathy Augustines roomate. Mr.Davis restore Career Ed. all kids ,aren’t going to college

sally d

July 12th, 2011
9:51 am

didn’t do spell ck, still sleepy


July 12th, 2011
9:58 am

I agree that high schools need to be next in the firing line. The kids arrive unprepared to write even the simplest essay or do basic algebra, yet teachers are held to GHSGT and ECOT results. No surprise, short cuts are taken. These kids have been cheated for years and are almost too old for remediation, but the situation needs to be addressed and the failing students assessed and offered a lifeline.

So very sad.

sally d

July 12th, 2011
10:03 am

Shar u are dead on it . Very sad. That is way there are so many behavior problems

HS Principal

July 12th, 2011
10:05 am

AYP has forced educators into this position. When people are promised accolades and promotions or threatened with dismissal, these are the results you will see. Just go ahead and institute MERIT PAY and see what happens, APS and Dougherty will be small potatoes. Fact is, America is doing the BEST job it has ever done with public education for ALL. We don’t only educate the top students or farm out the lower performers to labor jobs at 13. How about let’s hire teachers that are intrinsically motivated to instruct kids, give them the support they need from: administrators; central office; parents; and the media, and then watch what happens.

APS Stakeholder

July 12th, 2011
10:10 am

@Shar—run the investigation on complaints about Bockman. It’s not about race, but then again it is… David White is a decent administrator and he’s a white. I am glad he got the position. He will do great. More diversity is needed. But Bockman has a shady reputation when it comes to her black students. Let the complaints about her speak for itself and stop trying to defend wrong and play your own race card. It’s about who is going to care for the students. Bockman does not have that reputation outside of her own Inman elite community. There are better choices than Bockman.


July 12th, 2011
10:10 am

It would seem that more upper ranking administrators need to be terminated. What about the Human Resource director,the person who handles employee complaints,the person over district data and statistics,and the like. If you are going to truly restore public trust,you must deal with all of those who knew or should have known. It goes beyond those who supervised the principals. It seems that the DeSoto school district is taking appropriate and immediate action with the superintendent that they selected. As second in charge,it would appear that she knew or should have known.

Give Me A Break

July 12th, 2011
10:14 am

Donell Underdue as SRT Executive Director? Give me a break. They need to investigate him and speak to his teachers and they will tell you about how he took test sheets home and changed the answers.

Come on folks. There is a demon among you still. His name is Donell Underdue.

Just Saying

July 12th, 2011
10:16 am

Mr. Underdue is not a good choice for executive director. He was a flunkie for Dr. Sharon Davis Williams. He was up in her face constantly. Dont trust him he is also a cheater and very unethical. Ask anyone at his school.

Ask the parents

Another teacher

July 12th, 2011
10:21 am

This iceberg is going to get even bigger. Wait until the High schools reports are finished. Those same students that were moved along with false scores eventually had to take the graduation test in 11th grade, and the high school principals couldn’t allow them to fail that test either. It’s going to get real bad before it gets better.
Any principal appointed under the Dr. Hall regime needs to be replaced immediately. As for the teachers…… We take the heat for it all, Their involvement needs to be looked at case by case. Don’t cast an evil cloud over all the educators in the system.
Just my 2 cents.

What Goes Around Comes Around

July 12th, 2011
10:21 am

@Khaatim El

“I just concluded in the end it just shouldn’t be this hard to do the right things for kids,” El said, his voice wavering with emotion as he fought back tears. “I failed to protect thousands of children who come from homes like mine.”

SHAME ON YOU! You had the opportunity to help the children and you turned your back on them. You and the other board members got too full of yourselves with power. You knew what Dr. Hall and the others were doing and you said NOTHING. I do not feel sorry for your sorry A*s. YOU FAILED OUR CHILDREN. What goes around comes around.

What Goes Around Comes Around

July 12th, 2011
10:26 am

Dr. Sharon Davis Williams, Michael Pitts, Tamara Cotman and Robin Hall SHAME ON YOU!!!

If these were your children what would you do? You did nothing but think of your sorry selves. I hope all of you rot in hell for failing our children so you could gain money and power. I hope you have nightmares EVERY night. I hope you never work in another school system again.

Robin Hall YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER. The others did not care!!!!


July 12th, 2011
10:27 am

Losing her Superintendent of the year award should be the last thing taken away from her. The first thing taken away is her freedom. She is a criminal and needs to be behind bars for a while…


July 12th, 2011
10:28 am

@voice from da hood July 12th, 2011 10:22 am



July 12th, 2011
10:37 am

Get ready for the next round of idiots to take over. LOL. It will never end people. As long as the masses of ATL remain ignorant, you’ll continue to be bamboozled. And to think, there’s a church on almost every corner in Atlanta.


July 12th, 2011
10:44 am

To the person thinking that i should be volunteering in everyone else’s schools!!!!! :

Oh, I would, let me tell you. HOWEVER, in *my* kids’ school….well….um…the PTA has to raise 1/2 the amount of money to keep the school open (because we get zero federal funding). So I have to spend A LOT of time at THEIR school in order to keep the lights on. THIS is how the politicians do it – so that everyone gets screwed but them! (because, well, they keep their hands over the schools that cannot raise that kind of money – they ensure that those principals need to beg them for the money they need, because there’s no other way for that school to keep the lights on, given the incomes of the parents – believe me! I am NOT implicating those schools OR their PTA OR the parents).
If I (we) didn’t have to spend all our time raising money for the school our children attend (and ‘helping out’ because there isn’t enough help – or sending in school supplies because the school doesn’t supply them) – then I WOULD BE helping another school. But there’s only so much any one person can do.


July 12th, 2011
10:45 am

That school system needs more diversity. Are there any Hispanic, white, or Asian people in a position of power in the APS? Talk about having a good old boy network for black people. APS, you should be ashamed for more than just the cheating. Bunch of racists.

frustrated educator

July 12th, 2011
10:54 am

The interim super in APS did what should have been done in Dekalb 18 months ago, fire the area directors, and one member of the APS board did what the majority of the Dekalb board needs to do. RESIGN. The same tactiics of threats and intimidation were used to try to raise test scores in DCSS. Some of the same results. Weekend and after school erasure parties. Just look at EOCT failure rates for Algebra I and Geometry (very high), and SAT math scores (very low) in some Dekalb high schools and you would think that math is not taught at those schools. Then the GHSGT math scores come out, and you get the impression that that school is a math magnet school and every junior is headed for Harvard or MIT. Other games are played with enrollmend and graduation rates.

SpaceyG on Twitter

July 12th, 2011
11:39 am

What have we come to, Atlanta? Sitting down for interviews with the mayor in… creepy-looking parking garages! Surely the black SUVs are next. I hope they squeal the tires real good when they show up in the next scene.

A far more lively *analysis* of last night’s perfectly marvelous ATL media circus is here:


Maureen Downey

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

@SpaceyG, Very entertaining account. TV news pretty much ignored this story when it was a matter of slogging through data — hats off again to AJC data analyst John Perry for the original work three years ago that unearthed the improbable CRCT score disparities — but TV is now making up for lost time.

ATL Taxpayer

July 12th, 2011
12:16 pm

APS’s new superintendent and Board – on behalf of Atlanta taxpayers – should immediately seek return of all bonus money – derived from phony test scores – paid to any APS employee. Beverly Hall – when she returns from her luxurious Maui vacation – needs to be first in line to repay the over one-half millions dollars she fraudulently received!


July 12th, 2011
12:18 pm

@Common Sense-I agree with you. Since no one has been called the N word then you will not see Rev Al or Jesse. If Bev Hall were White then you would see them because they could be on the national spotlight baiting the race card all over the place!!! This is why you are seeing Rev Al with the Hispanics down at the Capital. If it is Black on Black, you will not see them. I feel sorry for the kids.

William Casey

July 12th, 2011
1:48 pm

Once one understands that many public school systems have become little more than enormous “Jobs Programs” for people with dubious degrees and credentials, what happened in the APS at least makes sense. By-the-way, cheating is not limited to the APS. Bev Hall just took it to a whole new level, hence the media attention.

Good riddance!

July 12th, 2011
2:21 pm

hopefully all these crooks and cheaters resign or get fired soon. They should be jail, not collecting huge salaries and pensions.

Want to Know

July 12th, 2011
5:08 pm

Millicent Few has resigned. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, Thank you, Jesus!

APS Teacher

July 12th, 2011
5:32 pm

@ Patrick Crabtree – I’ve worked as a teacher under Mr. Underdue’s leadership for years and I have no complaints against him. As an administrator, he has always done what’s in the best interest of the APS students we serve. When is the last time you spoke with his staff? It could not have been recently, because many would talk about the sacrifices Mr. Underdue has made to bring quality learning to Brown Middle School. He deserves his new position.

It kills me that AAE and other unions are so quick to talk up now, but what happened to you when I was teaching at Parks middle school and I reached out for help. You guys did not readily stand up against Principal Waller. I faithfully paid my union dues and AAE was not willing to go up against APS. I’m like those three other teachers on the news, the unions did not help any of us when we really needed them. What’s the unions part in all of this mess? Teachers have been complaining to the unions about APS cheating misconduct for years and you guys failed to respond.


July 12th, 2011
7:08 pm

Cheating is wrong, seriously wrong; which makes it critical that authorities take every step necessary to identify violators correctly. Mistakes in judgment, accusations and charges can be costly to the credibility and careers of the innocent. Not to mention the impact on the children.

The most astounding part of this entire incident is not that some people broke the rules. People fail to follow policy and break rules every day in every segment of society. There should have been something solid in place to prevent it – at every level. But the outpouring of judgment, hostility and the overall breakdown among peers and coworkers, inflamed by the Governor and his investigators, is unacceptable. They are the leaders – inciting people to turn on each other and tear down a system where trust and team work are essential. It is sad.

I am curious to know if Dr. Beverly Hall changed any of the testing procedures when she arrived at APS. Were erasures a problem prior to her arrival or did the State decide to
check because they were suspicious of the new trend? How many class rooms were flagged before Dr. Hall arrived? What was the trend? Why now and why did it take so long?

Finally, teaching children not to cheat is important and so is leading by example. However, it is critical that we teach them how to resolve the issues of life and how to
conduct themselves in the midst of a crisis. They must learn to weigh all the facts and make good decisions. We must teach them to fight with dignity and respect when addressing the many problems they will encounter in life. I have read and watched so much sanctimonious verbiage and accusations in the last few days. Even to the extent of interviewing children (not protecting them) to voice a negative opinion on TV. Media should return to unbiased reporting – not head hunting.


July 12th, 2011
8:46 pm

It saddens me to sit back and watch this circus. I can’t help but think about the long term effects this will have on the children of APS. Yes, the teachers and administers failed, but where were the parents. Parents must be held accountable for their child’s education. I cannot sit and hope that my child’s teacher is her only advocate. I must take a stand, speak out, and support my child’s education endeavors.

I continue to hear that APS has a “culture” of cheating. If cheating is embedded throughout the system, why do they continue to hire from within? I am sure there are more than 178 teachers that were cheating, but the others did not talk or erase enough to receive a high percentage. So, why do they continue to promote from within? They will continue to get the same results. I am sure there are “Outsiders” willing to assist with cleaning up the system.


July 12th, 2011
8:48 pm

Oops!!! administrators

S. Smith

July 12th, 2011
9:55 pm

Erroll Davis is going to make almost 600,000 a year! Wow! For that type of money he is going to play all required games. The good old boys win again. Sonny Perdue got all his boys paid! Mike bowers and team 2 million, Erroll 600k… he got to take down a black woman he did not like

Another Voice

July 12th, 2011
10:07 pm

I hope Davis will take some time and look outside the system for replacements for HR, Legal and other non-teaching specific roles. He would do well to avoid any promotions from within right now.

Also wish he’d left open those SRT roles and spent more time interviewing the potential candidates. No reason to rush through these changes.

Guess Joyce is retiring so she can pack her bags for DeSoto … assuming her girlfriend Kathy keeps her job out there.

just watching

July 12th, 2011
11:40 pm

@VERITAS…..students in certain grades in APS do take the ITBS. I’d be interested in seeing an analysis of those test sheets for WTR answers/erasures.

Whoever reported Mr. Davis is making $600,000….please explain where you got this figure from and post a link to the info if it is available.

just watching

July 12th, 2011
11:43 pm

And one more thing….students, parents and teachers that had NOTHING to do with this cheating scandal at schools that were not named in any of the investigative reports or flagged when the original analyses were done are having to give up their excellent leadership to assist in fixing this utter mess. So not happy about that. Not at all.


July 13th, 2011
9:12 am

@Another voice- I agree also. Hopefully these are only temporary moves. It would be in the districts best interest to discontinue promoting more of the same mess. On the other hand- if they play games, I do not believe that Erroll Davis will hesitate to remove them. Under his watch- I do not see things as operating as they had before – things should improve overall.


July 13th, 2011
1:52 pm

Bockman was principal at one of the State’s top elementary schools and then one of the State’s top 20 Middle Schools, both in APS! Inman is the most diverse middle school among the top 20 in Georgia, by a mile. At Inman, she was a stickler for showing respect for teachers, kids being responsible for their actions and performance, and she didn’t put up with troublemakers. She’s very honest and extremely competent. Inman’s loss is the school system’s gain. Hopefully, she’s the one picking her replacement now.


July 13th, 2011
10:30 pm

Maureen, please encourage AJC to run a front page article related to the advantages of hiring educators from outside there school system.

we r b ing n fected

July 15th, 2011
10:28 am

Remember “No Child Left Behind” was based on a lie. Rod Paige, the former Sec. of Education under W. Bush from 2001-2005, was superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (HISD). Largely based on the success of the HISD, labeled the “Texas Miracle”, “No Child Left Behind” was drafted and voted into law.

Except the “Texas Miracle” was not true. Over 3,000 High School dropouts were labeled as “transfer students” instead of dropouts, dramatically lowering the dropout rate. Instead of changing answers like the Atlanta teachers, Houston’s principals made sure the lowest performing students did not take the standardized tests. I guess it is not surprising that legislation based on fraud is still creating fraud in our educational system.

Queen Latiffah

July 16th, 2011
12:16 am

Bev Hall is on vacation in Hawaii enjoying the money that she made by keeping the APS students from learning! If there is anybody who believes that Hall didn’t know about the cheating, he/she needs to get their heads examined!