I had my doubts that any APS officials would ever be criminally indicted for the cheating scandal given how long it has taken, but I may be proven wrong.
Fulton County prosecutors are close to seeking indictments in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal, lawyers familiar with the probe said.
Defense attorneys representing some educators are being told criminal charges could be filed soon and that more than two dozen people could be indicted. That would answer questions that have hung over the inquiry since its start: Would the cheating be treated as a crime, and who would be prosecuted?
The Fulton District Attorney’s Office has spent more than 18 months investigating cheating on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
In July 2011, three special investigators found cheating on standardized tests occurred at 44 Atlanta schools and involved 178 educators, including 38 principals. That probe, initiated by Gov. Sonny Perdue, was launched after multiple articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about the validity of APS test scores when some dramatically rose or fell beyond what would normally be expected.
On Monday, Decatur lawyer Bob Rubin said prosecutors have told him they will be presenting the criminal case to the grand jury soon. “From my conversations with the District Attorney’s Office, it is my understanding that criminal charges will be filed as early as this week,” said Rubin, who represents a number of educators. “I expect a large number of people to be indicted, unfortunately.”
Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard has no comment on the investigation, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Atlanta attorney Michael Kramer, who represents 13 current and former Atlanta principals, said an assistant district attorney told him that prosecutors are reviewing files of 26 educators. Potential charges would include racketeering accusations, likely against high-ranking APS administrators, he said. “That would indicate to me that they’re likely to be going from the top down,” said Kramer, who didn’t expect his clients to be charged. “Until they issue it, we just don’t know.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog