Lots of movement this week on the Atlanta cheating scandal, including news that the district has been billed $127,386 by former Superintendent Beverly Hall for legal fees associated with the state 2009 testing investigation.
The AJC is also reporting that a foundation is being built for criminal prosecution of the former school chief:
A sweeping subpoena shows a criminal investigation has begun in earnest involving test tampering at Atlanta’s public schools and that former Superintendent Beverly Hall could be a target, lawyers said Tuesday.
The subpoena, issued by a Fulton County grand jury, seeks comprehensive information dating back to 1999 regarding teacher transfers and demotions, bonuses paid to employees for improved test scores and copies of complaints from parents, teachers or students of possible improprieties related to Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The subpoena also seeks signed copies of “any and all oaths of office” taken by Hall when she was superintendent.
“It’s the first shot across the bow, ” criminal defense attorney Jack Martin said. “This is a clear indication they are looking at criminal charges and that prosecutors are using the grand jury to get the records that could provide circumstantial evidence to support the investigation.”
The Fulton probe follows an investigation by special investigators appointed a year ago by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue into test cheating. Their report found that 178 educators were linked to cheating on standardized tests. The investigators also accused top school officials of destroying or altering complaints about misconduct, trying to hinder the investigation and lying to investigators when asked about their involvement. The governor’s investigators gave copies of their files to Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard, who must now decide whether criminal charges are warranted. On Tuesday, through a spokeswoman, Howard declined requests for an interview.
APS educators and administrators face potential charges of giving false statements to investigators or altering public documents, both of which are felonies with punishment of up to 10 years in prison. School officials who submitted test scores that they knew were false also could face potential felony charges with penalties of up to five years in prison.
The governor’s investigators concluded that Hall knew or should have known that the rising test scores that brought her national acclaim resulted from academic fraud. The Fulton subpoena, which mentions only Hall by name, indicates prosecutors want more information about what she knew or did not know. “It’s obvious she’s a subject of the investigation, ” Martin said. “That’s the only reason you’d be seeking that information.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog