The five worst cheating schools in APS system put under state control

The AJC has a breaking news story this morning that five Atlanta schools are being placed under state control based on evidence of years of test cheating.

The five schools are Parks Middle, Dobbs Elementary, Harper-Archer Middle, Kennedy Middle and Gideons Elementary, which the state says only made Adequate Yearly Progress for five years because they cheated. The worst of the lot was Gideons, which the DOE said cheated for 10 years and didn’t deserve AYP status for any of those years.

I was unclear on the extent of the state’s presence in these schools under this plan but Matt Cardoza of the state DOE told me, “The state monitors routinely but they aren’t taking control of the school.”

I’m not sure that we can declare victory here yet for the students in these schools as state monitors in other places haven’t led to great leaps in achievement levels.

According to the story thus far:

“It’s an about-face for them,” said Cardoza, noting that some schools that had been classified as distinguished for their academic achievement are now considered at the highest levels of “needs improvement.

State monitors will now take control of these schools. Administrators at the schools will have to develop turnaround plans and channel some of their funding into tutoring and other services for students, he said.

John Barge, state school superintendent, said: “I don’t think any of the parents will be surprised.”

One encouraging sign, Barge said, was that about half of the schools made AYP for this school year. Gideons, Parks and Dunbar were not among them.

All 45 schools were found to have cheated and lost AYP status for 2009, the year for which cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test was revealed. Those results shed light on what state investigators later found was years of cheating.

96 comments Add your comment

Ed Johnson

November 2nd, 2011
12:43 pm

“Schools Caught in Atlanta Cheating Scandal Lose Federal Standing”

Atlanta mom

November 2nd, 2011
12:52 pm

I found it interesting, looking at the Parks Middle School results for 2011. They passed the reading portion of the CRCT, failed the math portion. Based on all the bad press about Parks middle, I figured the scores would be in the 40% range. They are not.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
12:53 pm

Did y’all know Sheriff Andy Taylor from Mayberry today had a second home here in Atlanta?

I overheard this conversation at Abdullah the Butcher’s Rib Shack

Sheriff was saying “You know Arne Duncan was a right regular visitor to Atlanta before the investigators’ report came out. Always had something kind to say about Beverly Hall. Seems like he doesn’t come around these parts much these days does he?”

Is there any truth to the rumor Gomer Pyle was chasing down the former SRT Directors shouting “Citizen’s Arrest! Citizen’s Arrest!”?


November 2nd, 2011
12:54 pm

good !! i think the state should take over dekalb , fulton and clayton county schools too!! and while their at it why not let the governor hire some qualified people to run each of those counties

APS Parent #2

November 2nd, 2011
12:58 pm

For those who “defended” the previous APS administration of Dr. Hall, Dr. Augustine, et al, I hope you have silenced. For the four members of the ABOE who were their primary supporters, shame, shame on you. The state singles one of you out with the first botched investigation – shame on you in particular.

As a parent, I can’t imagine – either past or present – how any family would feel having a child in one of these schools. I hope they are all on a NCLB list of some type and their families are offered the option of attending one of the schools on the northside where there has been no evidence of cheating. These children don’t deserve “monitors” – they need a childhood full of fall festivals, fun runs, nice playgrounds, but most of all an education without a cloud of suspicion and distrust.


November 2nd, 2011
12:59 pm

This is too little, too late for the thousands of children who went through these schools over the last ten years. Good news for the children who will be going to these schools or are just starting out, but what about the ones who have either left or are about to leave the hopelessly polluted classes?

Allowing the current administrators and faculty to come up with a reform plan is letting the fox design the new hen house. Allowing them to retain employment while they children with whose futures they were entrusted have no realistic professional futures is obscene. They should all be stripped of benefits and pensions and fired on the spot.

Northside parent

November 2nd, 2011
1:28 pm

The below headline is juxtaposed to the SACS decision:

Five Atlanta schools
under state control 40 other schools are stripped of their federal academic standing. 12:30 p.m

Stop the corruption….Stop the Cheating The state needs to take over the entire district . Our tax dollars and the lives of children are being squandered.

@ Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
1:38 pm


Hall had plans to join the Federal Department of Education to lead several initiatives and serve as a spokesperson for Secretary Duncan. Of course, Duncan wouldn’t touch her now with a ten foot poll.

The Hoodlum Hall has been exposed to some degree. Perhaps the depths of her crookedness will brought to light before it’s all over.


November 2nd, 2011
1:47 pm

Georgia almost always is either last or near last in catagories that matter to the people. Putting these schools under state control virtually insures more cheating and incompetence.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
1:51 pm

@ @Beverly Fraud. Let’s to an interesting question. Whose actions are more reprehensible; George Bush’s for supporting Rod Paige, or Obama’s for supporting Beverly Hall, though his proxy, Arne Duncan?

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
1:54 pm

Edit time:

LEADS to an interesting question…THROUGH his proxy.

Where’s a good eraser when you need one?

Can someone contact Butler-Burks, so she can advise on how to delete the above report?

Jackson Parent

November 2nd, 2011
2:08 pm

Today’s AJC story validates what so many of the posters have been saying about the culture of APS: Lying, Cheating & Stealing.

We need charter schools. Some have said charter schools can be bad. Perhaps so, but nothing can be worse that the current situation!


November 2nd, 2011
2:18 pm

State-monitored, if in Needs Improvement 6 or higher, means there will be a full-time state monitor overseeing everything at the school, from the turnaround plan, to professional development, to lesson plans, and most especially, testing.

Maureen Downey

November 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

@GeeMac, In New Jersey, state monitors essentially acted as administrators of the schools. They were de facto principals. Do the monitors report for duty every day at the school? Do they have offices and see parents? (I have sent these questions to DOE, but no response yet. I also think AJC newsside is pursuing similar lines of questions on what these monitors will look like in the day-to-day operations of these schools.)

Harper-Archer Parent

November 2nd, 2011
2:46 pm

When will the governor, mayor or our legislative representatives speak out against this injustice we call the Atlanta Public Schools? Why are they being mum? Thousands of young lives are being destroyed and millions of tax dollars are being wasted…what else does it take, a nuclear bomb? So many of our elected officials cry out when there is a welfare cheater or even petty crime.
The magnitude of what is occurring is horrendous. It is in essence a genocide being fostered on generations of our children. They are not learning and they are the recipients of values such as stealing, lying and cheating.

Why don’t we have any of the civil rights organizations speaking out…maybe, even the American Civil Liberties Union. We so desperately need help!!

Maureen Downey

November 2nd, 2011
2:51 pm

Thanks to Angela Palm of the GSBA for sending me this link and note that “state directed” status was part of the differentiated accountability plan adopted in 2009. It was called contract managed previously, although this plan is more stringent.

Here is what the law says, but still curious to see what it looks like:

In addition, the school must enter into a state-directed contract with the Georgia Department of Education
as required in Georgia’s single statewide accountability system. Each contract will contain the following
non-negotiable elements.
Assignment of GaDOE State Director who will be at the school full time and will provide direct
supervision in the implementation of all school improvement actions:
• Directly involved in decisions regarding replacement of staff (e.g., principal);
• Ensure that instructional frameworks are used appropriately in each classroom;
• Ensure benchmark assessments are given and results are analyzed to guide instruction;
• Oversee implementation of short-term action plans;
• Ensure that the leadership team analyzes teacher attendance and develops action plan if needed;
• Ensure that the leadership team analyzes student attendance and develops action plan if needed;
• Ensure that the leadership team analyzes discipline records and develops action plan if needed; and
• Ensure that the leadership team addresses targeted areas from GAPSS Review through the short
term action plans.
Other mandates for the state directed schools include:
• Participation in GAPSS review at level NI-5 and NI-7;
• Provide training, implementation and monitoring of instructional strategies through Raising
Standards Academies;
• Hiring instructional coaches for specific content area of need, based on AYP results.
Customized Contract Expectations
• In addition to the set of non-negotiable actions, a set of customized expectations will be developed
annually by the state with each school and system to address the unique issues that school faces in
the coming school year. These expectations will be based on the most recent school data analysis

@ Maureen & GeeMac

November 2nd, 2011
2:52 pm

One must remember that New Jersey’s first approach was to hire a “turn around” superintendent, BEVERLY HALL, for the failing Newark Public Schools. Need I say more?

APS must be disbanded. We need our own schools: Charter Schools

APS teacher & taxpayer

November 2nd, 2011
3:02 pm

APS teacher & taxpayer

The board starting with Emmett Johnson must resign if the district is ever to regain credibility. If we were in Japan they might even consider “Harry Carry,” after knowingly destroying so many lives. Don’t let the APS board get away with blaming the fiasco entirely on Hall and Augustine.

I personally brought the cheating matter to Emmett Johnson’s attention on at least two different occasions as early as 2005 and was told to talk to my SRT executive director about my observations. The reason I spoke to Mr. Johnson was out of fear of speaking to my principal or God forbid, someone higher up in the district’s administration.

Board member Johnson only wanted to be a poster child, always posing next to Hall with a big smile, taking credit for the Atlanta Miracle.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
3:15 pm

Now will the “action plan” for discipline problems include SUPPORTING the teacher with SWIFT and SURE consequences for defiant or disruptive students?

Or is this the “invertebrate’s turnaround plan”?

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
3:18 pm

“If we were in Japan they might even consider “Harry Carry,” after knowingly destroying so many lives.”

The current BOE should take off their shirts, and sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch?

Not sure that would help, even less sure I’d want to witness it. One thing’s for sure. Even if they DID do that, and it was the lead item on the evening news, Mark Elgart STILL wouldn’t yank their accreditation.

Benteen Teacher

November 2nd, 2011
3:22 pm

Hall’s deep respect for teachers: paying her APS chauffer over $100,000 per year, plus meals.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
3:31 pm

@Benteen teacher, just because her handpicked Deputy Superintendent, her handpicked, Human Resources head, all 4 SRT Executive Directors, and 38 principals were all fingered in the state investigators’ report, does not mean that Hall had any knowledge of cheating.

It’s just a shame over 3 dozen people hid the truth from her like that, and shame on the AJC for trying to discredit her. Shame, shame, shame.


November 2nd, 2011
3:31 pm

It is beyond disappointing that the required elements of the state takeover do not include interaction with either the parents or the students. They are the most crucial stakeholders in the ‘contract’, yet their points of view and concerns are neither valued nor sought in the points that are laid out in the differentiated accountability plan.

Parents must be included if a turnaround plan is to succeed. The administrator should be mandated to find ways to encourage active parental participation and to solicit student ideas, likes and dislikes and ways to motivate performance. Having parents involved alerts their children that education is important to their own families and provides internal monitoring against a return to bad practices. Students, having been eased through assessments by cheating teachers, will have to take responsibility for their own work, and they will need to feel empowered by the changes rather than punished by them.

This list of mandates seems very myopic to me.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
3:42 pm

• Ensure that the leadership team analyzes student attendance and develops action plan if needed;

I thought that was the parents’ job.

Oh I forgot. We are the nanny state. It’s the TEACHERS responsibility to make the lesson “interesting” so the children will come to school. If the children aren’t attending, it’s the TEACHER who needs to change.

Yes, there are actually some school administrators who call that an “action plan”

Double Zero Eight

November 2nd, 2011
3:57 pm

The state should take over all schools in APS. What has come
out thus far is just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
4:00 pm

I wonder if Kathy Cox still refers to Beverly Hall as her “good friend”?


November 2nd, 2011
4:11 pm

“Ensure that the leadership team analyzes discipline records and develops action plan if needed” should be number 1. This has been a big problem. Have you ever followed a school bus and saw the kids hanging ou the window?????? What about the rights of the students who want to learn. Get discipline under control and I bet you will see scores soar.


November 2nd, 2011
4:22 pm

When the state sees what they have to work with at these schools, I bet they cheat too.

APS GRAD & Parent

November 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

Is there a lawyer in the house. I think a class action suit for any parent and student over the last ten years against: the state DOE because Joy Berry others were notified (3%); every member of the Atlanta BOE (7%); Hall (40% she can afford it with all the bonouses); Augustine (15%); all other deputy superintendents including McCloud (15%); and, members of Chamber of Commerce (20%). Since money was the driving force behind this, let them pay the parents and the students whose lives they have impacted in such a horrible way.

Why haven’t any of the BOE been removed. I am voting for anybody running against them.

Errol Davis wake up. You are still harboring some of the worst of Hall’s regime and it is going to bite you soon.


November 2nd, 2011
4:32 pm

whats the old saying ?? you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken _____ …… i hope the state takes over all the metro counties and replaces all the crooked local officials, but dont count on them making the kids in atlanta university material !!! look what they are dealing with

My God!!!

November 2nd, 2011
5:14 pm

Lord, what next?

Do our elected leaders have a conscience? The Atlanta Public Schools must be overseen by a responsible agency. Many are wondering whether they really care about economically disenfranchised children. How long will this mess be allowed to continue?

Please join me in prayer,


APS 4th grade teacher & a Proud Cheater!

November 2nd, 2011
5:27 pm

Irrespective of cheating -

My school fudges on student attendance, inflating the figures throughout the year. Even during the height of the flu season our school wide attendance average was 99%**. We also do not record the number of suspensions. Last year we had zero** suspensions. Can you believe it, my school serves a model to be emulated!

The state does not have the personnel power to reveal the extent of corruption occurring in APS, and certainly does not possess the staff to attempt reversing matters.

The reports that we are reading almost daily merely scratch the surface of what has and continues to take place.

Thank you very much,

Fighting in the Trenches

**For those who might attempt to identify my school, and ultimately me, we are just one of many with “dramatically” exceptional attendance and lowor no suspensions.

Beverly Fraud

November 2nd, 2011
5:34 pm

“The state does not have the personnel power to reveal the extent of corruption occurring in APS, and certainly does not possess the staff to attempt reversing matters”

Does it lack the personnel power, or the WILL power? Hmm…

To Mr. Davis,

November 2nd, 2011
5:36 pm

Mr. Davis,

Several APS titled employees are still on your cabinet or operating as “interims.” Several of them have their names plastered in many reports or they worked behind the scenes to stack the deck in favor of the few, the proud and the entitled in APS (often at the expense of the poor and uninformed).

Replace them all with “professionals” who have untarnished reputations. You have had time to debrief them, so move them out and let’s start rebuilding trust with the public & the parents. It is time to err on the side of the students and the city of Atlanta’s public school system rather than the side of Dr. Hall’s minions and staffers.

A Parent of APS Students

@APS teacher & taxpayer (3:02 pm)

November 2nd, 2011
5:40 pm

You should have never expected help from APS board member Emmett Johnson. He is an old broken down Tom, good only for genuflecting around construction contractors….always looking for crumbs.

Uncle Emmett is not there for children, teachers or the community.

Mamie Jones

November 2nd, 2011
5:50 pm

They don’t really care about minority children. If they did, this horrible situation would not be allowed to stand.


November 2nd, 2011
5:59 pm

I can readily see from reading the postings on this blog that APS has stressed a lot of people to the limit. Hopefully, APS will come clean and start anew with honest, respectful input from all stakeholders, especially parents and grass root community leaders (not the conventional “leaders” who guarantee more of the same).

I’m afraid that until this is done matters will continue to spiral out of control.


November 2nd, 2011
6:04 pm

Maureen, I see you received information about the role of the state monitor. I didn’t read down far enough before I sent you my note. That’s what happens when I blog during afternoon taxi duty!

Mr. George

November 2nd, 2011
6:14 pm

Thank goodness I don’t live in the district. If I did, I would much rather send my kids to a kennel!

I cringe when I think of the many parents who have no other option.

frustrated APS mom

November 2nd, 2011
6:26 pm

I am one of the APS parents that is stressed to the limit and we are in a “good” district on the northside. Which is the lesser of the evils? Do we try to sell our house and hope we won’t lose too much money in this horrible real estate market, or do we scratch and claw our way through this school system to fight for a decent education for our children? I feel like I am about to snap. Morale is SO low among the parents. We are all stressed, embarrassed, and distrustful. Everyone I know that can afford to switch to private is jumping ship. Those of us that can’t swing it (or are afraid to make the insane financial commitment in this shaky economy) are left feeling like we can’t provide a decent education for our children. It just sucks.

APS Parent #2

November 2nd, 2011
6:28 pm

Mr. Johnson was not who the report referenced. It was the former board chair, LBB. Read the report. But of course, I get why you put his name out there because he was a lackey for Dr. Hall.

One of the board’s responsibilities is to oversee the Superintendent (not to do his or her bidding). From the state’s report, it seems that the Atlanta Board of Education for years (I am including the previous boards here and it is worse for those who were board incumbents – LBB, CHK, EJ, YJ, BM) failed to oversee the Superintendent.

Is there any correlation between the number of years of the board’s failure to exercise oversight on Superintendent Hall and the number of years that the state has determined that certain APS students were “cheated” of an education??

APS Parent #2

November 2nd, 2011
6:29 pm

Northside parent, all APS parents feel your angst. That is one thing we ALL have in common.


November 2nd, 2011
6:44 pm

@APS Parent #2, when he was in the State Senate, Kasim Reed sponsored the legislation that took away the majority of the Board of Education’s oversight authority with respect to the Superintendent. Because of Reed’s bill, Beverly Hall was granted unfettered power over the finance and legal matters involving the school system. The Chamber of Commerce convinced the future Mayor that Atlanta needed to allow its Superintendent to run her district without accountability to the elected Board of Education.

@Emily (6:44 pm)

November 2nd, 2011
7:11 pm

@ Emily: “State Senate, Kasim Reed sponsored the legislation that took away the majority of the Board of Education’s oversight authority with respect to the Superintendent”.

You are absolutely 100% correct. That act was one of the slickest acts orchestrated by Beverly Hall. Hall knew that with this accomplished she would have virtual full reign, much as she did in Newark. Her board in Newark was neutered as a result of state control over the district.

The New Jersey Department of Education rapidly became aware of Hall’s devious means of “reaching” goals and negotiated her exit from the district. She should have been fired and prosecuted but Newark was in a state of turmoil (not as bad as APS) and they just wanted her out.

The Inside Scoop
3rd floor,
130 Trinity Ave.


November 2nd, 2011
7:17 pm

My heart goes out to frustrated APS mom and all APS parents. I can’t imagine the stress you must be feeling right now.

Just curious…. Has anything to this extent ever happend in any other major (or smaller) cities before? Or is APS the first? I have read many stories about the troubled DC public schools, but don’t know if they were ever designated to be taken over by the government due to incompetence.


November 2nd, 2011
7:50 pm

How about putting Ms. B Hall under state or federal control? Or her minions who saw that teachers were browbeaten into cheating? How about putting them in jail for theft?

What Next? My God!

November 2nd, 2011
7:54 pm

Do our elected leaders have a conscience? The Atlanta Public Schools must be overseen by a responsible agency. Many are wondering whether they really care about economically disenfranchised children. How long will this mess be allowed to continue?


Former SPARK parent

November 2nd, 2011
8:03 pm

I will bet you hard cold cash that most–if not all–of the current train-wreck APS BOE members run again, saying “what do you mean? We did the best we could! Of COURSE we have your best interests at heart.”

Parents, resolve now to send every single one of these me-first mediocrities into permanent political exile. Even the ones who are acting civil now presided over Bev Hall’s reign of child predation. They are accomplices in her atrocities, and I’m specifically looking at you, Chief Enablers Harsch-Kinnane and Butler-Burks.

Never forgive. Never forget. We can find better people in ten minutes, and at random, if we have to.

Show your anger. Vote down SPLOST and make them come back again next year with an utterly transparent slate of projects accompanied by verifiable anti-cronyism, anti-favortism mechanisms. Then, yes, vote for SPLOST. But on your terms. Rational, reasonable terms.

Erroll Davis is a good guy, but he hasn’t fired enough people yet–not by a long shot. Make him CLEAN house, not just wipe away the surface grime. It’ll take him awhile–there are a lot of awful people who dearly need to be fired–but it can be done.

Former SPARK parent

November 2nd, 2011
8:07 pm

And why not start with Keith “Race Card” Bromery? How about we agree that the Erroll Davis era should not be tainted by an amoral spinmeister? How about hiring a spokesperson whose only job is to tell the truth to parents, not use any rhetorical device, however contemptible and cynical, to protect his employers?

Praying on my knees

November 2nd, 2011
8:18 pm

We have an emergency and need help. Where’s the NAACP or the Urban League?

All these middle class and above leaders have their children in private schools or other districts. We are left here alone to fight this battle. I know my Jesus and together we are going to win. Loose Here, get them devils away from our precious little ones.

Erma Washington
I’m a lifetime member of the NAACP