Resignations or terminations: APS applies pressure to suspected cheaters today

Many of you have expressed frustration with the $600,00 being paid monthly to APS educators implicated in the cheating scandal. A state investigation found cheating on the CRCT occurred at 44 Atlanta schools and involved about 180 educators. The investigation came after multiple articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about the validity of APS test score improvements.

Since July, Atlanta Public Schools has spent $6.2 million to pay the salaries of educators placed on administrative leave. The district can’t fire them because of state employment laws and a lack of access to critical evidence. That may be ending soon. Atlanta Public Schools is meeting today and Friday with educators to tell them they have to resign or be fired.

The AJC’s Jaime Sarrio spoke with attorney Mel Goldstein, who represents 20 to 35 educators. The attorney said teachers attending meetings today have until the end of Friday to decide whether to quit.

According to the story:

If they decline, they will receive a “charge letter” from the school district, which lays out the reason the teacher is being fired. The teacher will then be able to request a hearing to dispute the charges.

Goldstein, interviewed outside APS headquarters, said several of his clients have indicated they intend to fight the charges. Many dispute statements in the 400-plus page state cheating investigation, released in July.

About 180 educators were implicated in the state investigation; so far about 60 have resigned or retired. The rest are on administrative leave and are still being paid.Earlier this week, the district sent an e-mail summoning them to a “mandatory meeting” at district headquarters to discuss “employment status” with APS representatives.

Not attending the meeting could be deemed an act of insubordination and could result in termination, the letter said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

77 comments Add your comment

tony

February 23rd, 2012
1:08 pm

APS headquarters !!!! brilliant leadership down there,, it does not get any better than the ATLANTA SCHOOL BOARD!!

skipper

February 23rd, 2012
1:17 pm

APS = “cluster”

Entitlement Society

February 23rd, 2012
1:20 pm

Seriously, it has taken over 7 months and $6.2 million to get this far and that doesn’t even include legal fees? Thanks, Beverly Hall and all of your conspirators. Now it’s not just the children who have suffered, it’s the taxpayers. Government school at its finest!

6.2 million since July....

February 23rd, 2012
1:24 pm

We’ve spent 6.2 millions since July to pay teachers who cheated and are doing nothing. I am delighted and thrilled beyond measure that they have to resign or be fired.
Now all I need to know is ….what about heavy Bevvy? What about Beverly Hall? Are we still paying her? Are we still backing up the Brinks truck loaded with cash to keep her sitting on her, um, considerable ASSets? What about her legal fees? Are we still paying for those? How much money have we paid so far?
I’ve got my mother’s sewing machine ready to make that size 50XXXX orange jail jumpsuit for her to wear.
Good Mother

Ed Johnson

February 23rd, 2012
1:24 pm

The problem was (is) APS culture, not APS teachers.

Blaming and changing the members of a football team cannot possibly change the game of football, as the football players aren’t the game’s rule makers.

Similarly, blaming and changing APS teachers cannot change the culture of APS for the better, as the teachers aren’t APS culture’s rule makers.

Fight Charges with What?

February 23rd, 2012
1:26 pm

This statement bothers me “Goldstein, interviewed outside APS headquarters, said several of his clients have indicated they intend to fight the charges. ”

Who are those several clients and WHOSE money are they going to fight the charges with, MINE? My neighbors? All of we tax-payers? Maureen, can you get the answers to these VIP questions.
Good Mother

Ernest

February 23rd, 2012
1:29 pm

Something does not make sense about this. How can they fire the teachers now with the same evidence they had after the earlier report? What is the incentive for a teacher to resign if they believe they are not guilty of the allegations? Seems like teachers have no other choice but to decline then request a hearing. I will assume going this route will ensure they get paid until the case is resolved.

Brandy

February 23rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Will those who are fired and request a hearing still be paid? Will they be entitled to back pay if their firing is found unjust?

Ed Johnson Reply

February 23rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Ed Johnson, you wrote “Similarly, blaming and changing APS teachers cannot change the culture of APS for the better, as the teachers aren’t APS culture’s rule makers.”

Sorry, that boat don’t float.

Teachers are human beings who make their own decisions. None of them were forced at gun point to change those test answers. Any of them could have quit or blew the whistle…and some did.

Even in the most dire of circumstanceds, human beings with integrity adn honesty know to do the right thing. Real German human beings, under threat of death, saved Anne Frank’s family and friends during WWII. They risked and LOST their lives because they knew the right thing to do.

Teachers chose to cheat and they got a bonus to do it. You can’t change the facts.

GM

carlosgvv

February 23rd, 2012
1:31 pm

There is at least an even chance a large number of these “educators” will, if fired, appeal and start yelling “racism”. Then, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will be here very publicly demanding an investigation. The NAACP then will follow suit and, after all is said and done, these educators will either be back on the job or retired and living on a fat settlement. Wait for it!!!!

Lori

February 23rd, 2012
1:31 pm

I disagree, Ed. No one put a gun to their heads and made them cheat. Every employer has a whistle-blower line, they could have reported their superiors for asking them to cheat. They chose not to, and chose the unethical path. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Lori

February 23rd, 2012
1:33 pm

They know their career is over anyway, so of course they are going to sit on it, not resign, and get paid for the longest amount of time they can. They’ve already shown they are unethical, is this really surprising that they would chose to continue to rob the tax payers?

Entitlement Society

February 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

@ Ed Johnson – to follow your logic, so if APS told its teachers to go steal books from Barnes and Noble for the betterment of the school system and they did, we shouldn’t blame the teachers? We should blame APS because it was the culture and they told teachers to do it? Come on, Ed. Each individual has a moral compass and knows right from wrong and is therefore accountable for his/her own actions. These teachers have no one to blame but themselves.

Maureen Downey

February 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

@Brandy: From the AJC news reporter on this story today:

I don’t know if they are paid while they are appealing the firing process. But yes, they would be entitled to back pay if they win their case.

Oh My!!

February 23rd, 2012
1:42 pm

I have said all along many other school systems “bent” or “cheated” the rules in order to meet the standards of the CRCT. APS has become the poster child for such activities. They were the ones that just so happend to get caught. But if people look they will find more elsewhere.

Old timer

February 23rd, 2012
1:45 pm

I wonder if every accused teacher is a “bad” teacher? Maybe some are capable and just did wrong. Nothing has actually been proven. Even though I know it is wrong, unethical, I still feel bad for them. I don’t know why…but then I always give people the benefit of the doubt……

Old timer

February 23rd, 2012
1:46 pm

And oh my…you are correct.

Jerry Eads

February 23rd, 2012
1:47 pm

Ed & Lori: Well, in fact, many of them did get essentially a gun to their heads. “Cheat or lose your job. Wanna feed your kids? Wanna keep your house?” The real culprits are those who had authority in the system. NOW, that said, there were also those who had no clue how to teach their kids so that they’d pass the tests. There was in too many cases NO support to help them figure out how to help their kids. Given a “get those kids to pass or else” ultimatum, they ‘fixed’ the tests. THEN, of course, there were those who simply colluded with those in authority (notice I’m avoiding the term “leader”) to falsify documents.

We know only too well from the Milgram research of the 1960’s (and replicated many times) that it’s actually only too easy to get people in subservient positions to follow orders that are totally against their morals. That means you and me. Stay off your high horses, folks. As much as you don’t want to know it, 7 or 8 out of every 10 of us when faced even with a little pressure would do the same thing. Sad, but sadly true.

I’m not suggesting that the guilty go free; the system isn’t set up to be forgiving, nor does it take into account the Milgram research (which was conducted to try to better understand how so many people killed so many during the Holocaust). With the likely exception of many of the actual perpetrators in positions of authority, most of the “little people” will, I suspect, have their wrongdoings addressed.

Ron F.

February 23rd, 2012
1:55 pm

The teachers who can, beyond reasonable doubt, be proven as cheaters need to go and have their certificates revoked. If they admitted it, they’ve gotta go. If they say they didn’t and the evidence proves they did, they’ve gotta go. Unfortunately, those who pressured teachers to cheat, without proof, will walk away unscathed. Without the evidence publicly presented, we can’t really judge who should and should not be fired.

Former APS Teacher

February 23rd, 2012
1:59 pm

What is truly egregious about this (beyond the enormous amount of wasted tax dollars, the cheated children, etc etc etc) is that for YEARS APS has been firing good teachers for no reason other than the fact that they were whistle blowers who called APS out on the system’s unethical culture, with regard to testing and other issues. But now that APS has gotten busted and is the the limelight, these lying cheaters have been given fair dismissal rights that many ethical and competent teachers were denied, precisely because they were ethical and competent.

Ed Johnson

February 23rd, 2012
1:59 pm

@GM: “Real German human beings, under threat of death, saved Anne Frank’s family and friends during WWII. They risked and LOST their lives because they knew the right thing to do.”

Well, GM, why did “real German human beings” have to do that? The answer, please?

The real world isn’t as reducible as you may wish to be.

Ed Johnson

February 23rd, 2012
2:00 pm

The real world isn’t as reducible as you may wish it to be.

Frankie

February 23rd, 2012
2:06 pm

It is funny how people take the stances that they do by sayin the teachers will sit it thru the firing process as long as they can, because they are unethical to begin with…

TO be implicated does not mean you are guilty, so if you know in your heart of hearts that you are innocent then I agree that they should get paid to got through the process and have the APS and others prove that yuo are guilty and what yu are guilty of…..

@Ron F…I agree with you 100%….

Ed Johnson

February 23rd, 2012
2:20 pm

@Jerry Eads, thanks a million.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:45 pm

I’d make them fire me.
considering APS admin was the entity which put this abomination into play, don’t expect me to fall on my sword for you.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:47 pm

also, big fan of due process.
gotta PROVE they screwed up.

its not like APS has clean hands here

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:49 pm

@ 6.2

I feel you, but the $6.2 is a boatload cheaper than the settlement if some of them are let go without iron clad proof.

its not like APS hasn’t scapegoated before

Mountain Man

February 23rd, 2012
2:50 pm

The administration is just trying to make it easier for themselves. REsign or else! Why should any teacher resign? They are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Make the school systme fire them, then appeal and make them prove the allegations.

APS could have made it a lot easier for themselves if they had just concetrated on prosecuting the leaders, instead of individual teachers. Sort of like at the end of WWII, if we had let the German officers go and prosecuted all the German soldiers.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:53 pm

@ Lori

its well known the whistle blower line is worthless. except in IDing
yourself.

I’ve known people who’ve used the so called safe line, only to be hounded out of employment.

don’t know about APS, but places I’ve been the system self investigates.
sorta defeats the purpose

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:55 pm

last time I looked in a history book, Anne Frank ended up dead.

Shar

February 23rd, 2012
2:57 pm

The article does not mention how many of the 180 are being asked to resign, or if in fact more teachers have been identified than were included in the report.

Additionally, what about the administrators who were implicated? Is this only the teachers?

I understand that the prosecutor’s office asked APS to hold off on any actions until the prosecutor had gathered evidence independently. I have to suppose that these teachers are ones for whom significant evidence exists, and that the option to resign is a mercy for which I am not sure they should qualify. The administrators are considered more culpable in effecting the pressure to cheat, the cheating itself and the coverup, and I have to think – hope! – that they will be given no such leniency.

What about the bonus money these teachers have received? Can it be clawed back?

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
2:58 pm

another reason I’d make them fire me.

resignation could be seen as admittance of guilt.
not a good place to be when the multi-million lawsuits start
flying

Shar

February 23rd, 2012
2:59 pm

@bootney, haven’t you heard? Anne Frank ended up being baptized a Mormon, posthumously and involuntarily, after being killed because she was a Jew.

Hillbilly D

February 23rd, 2012
3:00 pm

I thought the people who shielded Anne Frank and her family were Dutch. Unfortunately, they were found out and she died in a concentration camp.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:01 pm

@ Shar,

with respect to my LDS friends, I don’t buy the baptism of the dead bit. but to each their own.

and Mormon or Jew, she still ended up dead

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:06 pm

@ hillbilly,

its Good Mother. don’t confuse her with facts.

Jerry Eads

February 23rd, 2012
3:06 pm

You’re welcome, Ed. The facts are what the facts are.

As I recollect, there were reports that some APS “whistle blowers” got fired for opposing illegitimate practices.

VERY glad to see that so many posters recognize the absence of black and white here. There will be many tough calls for Errol and his staff. AND they’ll all be happy when this fiscal drain can start being spent on kids again.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:13 pm

@ Jerry

most of us working in education realise the suicidal nature of using the rat line, since all it does is single well intentioned people out
as potential problems to be dealt with before somebody notices.

simple fact is, until Davis and co. actually make substantative and long term changes, they could left every teacher in the state go and nothing will really happen.

William Casey

February 23rd, 2012
3:13 pm

@Jerry Eads: I respect your opinion and am well aware of the Milgram experiments. However, some “orders” are beyond the pale. All I had to do to remain Dean at Chattahoochee HS in the mid-nineties was to ignore massive student cheating (not on standardized tests) and pretend that the school’s ineffective policies were working. Could not do it. Starting at the top, everyone involved should be fired and have their licenses revoked. End of discussion.

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2012
3:13 pm

Read Former APS teacher’s 1:59pm post. It is MOST instructive when it comes to the “corporate culture” of APS.

And with all due respect, posters recommending APS teachers had but only to “call the whistler blower line” is about as credible as asking a chicken to call Truett Cathy for career advancement opportunities.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:14 pm

err….LET every teacher in the state go.

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2012
3:18 pm

Does this sordid episode not SCREAM for stronger policies to protect teachers from administrative RETALIATION?

But has a SINGLE word been spoken in the Georgia General Assembly to address this? Has a SINGLE word been uttered by the state DOE?

Or are they too busy developing forms that will allow fetuses to evaluate the “effectiveness” of Georgia teachers?

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:19 pm

@ William,

you’re correct, but these are unusual times. education and educators are under ongoing assualt internally and externally. the economy is so bad saying its gone to hell would mark improvement.

fear can drive good people to make bad decisions

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

@ Beverly

preach on.
you did get one thing wrong, however. the fetus program is to
help sort out who can help the ‘dawgs in 20 years and who can’t.

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2012
3:24 pm

Since we are talking about ethics, why hasn’t an ethics commission investigated the former board chair for possible improprieties in hiding the Porter report from the rest of the board?

Shar

February 23rd, 2012
3:28 pm

It may also be a question of degree. There are many of us who have wondered what was going on in those classrooms during Dr. Hall’s “miracle” improvements, and it may well be that the length of the delay in dealing with the cheaters is at least partially attributable to an investigation that reached farther than the one year. If evidence of multi-year cheating by particular teachers has been developed, those may be the teachers on the chopping block here in Retribution: Part 1. There has to be a strong inducement to the teachers called in today to agree to resign and save us all time and money, and it will certainly not be conscience. Today’s crop may be facing very unpleasant and close to inevitable bad consequences unless they shut up and leave.

That would be my bet, anyway.

bootney farnsworth

February 23rd, 2012
3:32 pm

because there is no ethics in education in Georgia anymore.

Mountain Man

February 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

“As I recollect, there were reports that some APS “whistle blowers” got fired for opposing illegitimate practices.”

And has there been any news that those who opposed the cheating and were fired have been rehired and given back pay? NO!

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2012
3:37 pm

@ Beverly

preach on.
you did get one thing wrong, however. the fetus program is to
help sort out who can help the ‘dawgs in 20 years and who can’t.

Thanks bootney; now I know why Nick Satan, er, Saban, was in doctor’s garb, passing out letters of commitment.

Mountain Man

February 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

So what is the incentive to resign? Do you get to keep your teaching certificate if you resign, so you can go cheat somewhere else? Or is resigning or being fired a lose-lose proposition for the teacher, so why not just make them fire you?