The Sunday AJC has an update today on the status of former APS superintendent Beverly Hall.
While APS is moving ahead in its efforts to dismiss educators accused of cheating, there are no charges pending against Hall and the Fulton DA will only say that his probe is ongoing.
Although the state’s own investigation into CRCT cheating in Atlanta concluded that Hall “knew or should have known about cheating,” Hall denies any role. She says that while she expected educators to raise student achievement, she never pressured them to cheat or sanctioned cheating.
The decision to bring charges will likely hinge on the resolution of this issue: Whether Hall created a success-at-any-cost culture that led to widespread cheating or whether she actively condoned cheating by ignoring glaring disparities in performance and by shrugging off whistle-blower reports of test tampering.
The former Atlanta school chief has made only a handful of public statements since a state investigative report running more than 400 pages was released in July alleging widespread cheating in APS. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has an ongoing grand jury investigation into the alleged misconduct, and DA Paul Howard has declined to comment.
Some who have watched this case unfold say it won’t truly be resolved until a decision is made about whether Hall is held accountable for what’s being called the largest school cheating scandal in American history. “Everyone is wondering what happened to Dr. Hall,” said Ramon Reeves, president of the Atlanta Association of Educators and a science teacher at North Atlanta High School. “People are feeling that the situation is unresolved, that she was the leader and she was the crux of what was going on.”
Questions about Hall and her top lieutenants are resurfacing as some teachers accused of cheating are attending hearings to fight for their jobs. Many say they felt pressured to cheat by a punitive culture that started at the top. The special investigation accused about 180 educators at 44 schools of some degree of cheating. As of last week, about 85 have retired or resigned, two have been fired, and about 25 are scheduled to have a tribunal hear their cases.
The Professional Standards Commission, which licenses Georgia educators, voted to sanction about 80 teachers and education leaders by suspending or revoking their certificate.The once-celebrated Hall retired as superintendent in June. Some of the top officials who served under her are still under contract and being paid by APS, while others have had trouble securing new employment:
● Former Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine, Hall’s top adviser, resigned as superintendent of the DeSoto Independent School District after one day on the job. She and the Texas district reached a severance agreement paying her $188,000.In the Atlanta investigation, she was accused of making false statements when questioned about cheating. Investigators said Augustine knew or should have known that cheating was going on.
● Three former area superintendents — Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts and Tamara Cotman — are still on the APS payroll. They earn six-figure salaries. Each was issued an intent-to-fire letter months ago, but no hearing has been scheduled. District officials say they haven’t decided what actions will be taken regarding the former area superintendents. All three were accused in the state investigation of failing to properly monitor the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. Investigators also claimed the three knew or should have known about cheating. They deny any wrongdoing.
● Millicent Few, former chief of human resources, secured a consulting job in a Connecticut school district, but was let go after the superintendent there learned of the allegations against her in the Atlanta cheating case. Few is accused of illegally ordering the destruction or alteration of documents and making false statements to investigators.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog