APS school chief Davis to employees: Remember 95 percent of APS employees were not implicated in cheating scandal

 Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Erroll B. Davis Jr.

In the wake of the indictments handed down today against former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others, APS school chief Erroll B. Davis sent this letter to APS employees:

Dear Employees:

Today, the Fulton County District Attorney’s (DA) Office announced indictments against 35 former employees of Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The former employees are accused of wrongdoing in connection with the administration of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in 2009 and, in some cases, previous years.

As an APS family, we are ready to put this troubling episode behind us. Our official role is to allow the legal process to run its course. We have an obligation to treat any indictment as a legal matter between the individuals implicated and the DA’s office.

At the same time, we will maintain the expectation that all employees conform to the highest ethical standards established in APS. Over the past two years, we have taken action to renew our organization’s collective commitment to students, parents, employees, partners and community members. From requiring all employees to complete annual ethics training as a condition of employment to strengthening safeguards on test materials, we have done considerable work both to prevent and to punish cheating.

Our focus now is where it should be: cultivating an ethical organization, supporting the more than 95 percent of individuals who were not implicated in the scandal, and most importantly, providing a quality education for our children. We are keenly focused on serving our 50,000 students and approximately 3,000 teachers and principals; they accept their profession as a calling and understand that educating a child is the most honorable job in the world. I have nothing but admiration for our teachers and principals. I know that our children will succeed when the adults around them work hard, work together, and do so with integrity.

Thank you for your positive contribution to Atlanta Public Schools.

Sincerely,

Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Superintendent

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

214 comments Add your comment

Top School

March 29th, 2013
7:25 pm

The AJC posted Atlanta Public Schools acknowledges the harassment of their employees under the leadership of Beverly Hall. Currently, APS has full knowledge of an administrators manipulation and tactics used in the harassment of teachers attempting to use the proper instruments provided by the school system to report wrong doing. APS has not held ALL employees responsible under Beverly Hall’s administration. The AJC fails to report ALL the information it knows. Some administrators with a history of using Hall’s tactics to harass and intimidate are still currently employed lurking in the halls of northside Atlanta schools for their next victim.

Rick L in ATL

March 29th, 2013
7:27 pm

And Taco Bell is 95% horsemeat-free! Sorry, Erroll, but this is not the time to do spin. This is not the time to say, wait! we may be one of the statistically worst school systems in one of the statistically worst states in the country; we may have broken metal detectors and gun-totin’ thugs here and there and gang violence at Inman freaking Middle School, for crying out loud, but we’re sucking less all the time.. That may be true. But come on, let the ink dry on the indictments first. Let the victimized parent and children have a tiny bit of closure before you say the absolutely unnecessary. Bad form.

Rick L in ATL

March 29th, 2013
7:33 pm

And, yes, there are still many APS employees who were not innocent. Just because they were not run out after the Bowers report doesn’t mean they weren’t dirty. I’m thinking in particular of one principal who is having quite a nice career at SPARK right now despite a 29% cheating rate at her former school. She wasn’t fingered in the Bowers report because her former school (CW Hill) had been closed and the paper trail had dried up. By the way, this woman was a Bev Hall protege and accompanied Hall to Phoenix to receive the national super award.

Yes, by all means, Erroll, let’s move on. Why belabor the past?

"Increase the Dole"

March 29th, 2013
7:44 pm

“I knoed dere issa God Miss Ceellie”…..best news Ive heard about Atlanta in years……hope B. Halls GOES DOWN!……..

yagottabekiddingme

March 29th, 2013
7:47 pm

Right on, Rick L in ATL. Erroll seems a bit jumpy in pumping up the troops—where was he when he was eviscerating North Atlanta and not commenting on the tactics there? We in the parent population of APS don’t trust ANYONE, including Erroll, because he hasn’t proven to be trustworthy even after lo these nearly two years in office.

Bill

March 29th, 2013
7:55 pm

Now we can get on to Dekalb county and put all of those “leaders” in prison so they can keep in touch with their cousins…

Henry

March 29th, 2013
8:10 pm

What is forgotten is that the state never did an erasure analysis on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests. Elementary school administrators were held to a standard that was never applied to high school. Was it out of fear that the graduation rate improvement was also built on fake test scores? Another issue is that state and federal officials were too quick to buy into the mythology of the APS miracle. Remember the days that Beverly Hall was racking up rewards for unbelievable results?

jerry eads

March 29th, 2013
8:17 pm

Erroll should and MUST do everything he can to help morale of the folks left in the system. His job is to rebuild. NOT give up. Bravo, sir.

YES, the vast majority were and stayed clean. YES, there inescapably were others not identified who bent or trashed the rules. YES, at least several of those named today did more harm to APS and the reputation of public schooling in general than even folks such as Michelle Rhee and former sec’y of ed Rod Paige when he was in Texas. YES, it’s inescapable that because of our insanely naive and shortsighted education “accountability” policies, there have to have been HUNDREDS (perhaps thousands) of instances JUST as nefarious as what happened at APS. YES, it is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that there will continue to be countless instances of what we term cheating in the future because we continue those policies. You think not? Go reread the Milgram research.

And Erroll must still do his best to rebuild APS from the deck he was dealt. The lives of tens of thousands of kids are at stake. He’ll for darn sure do a better job than the “award-winning” previous supt.

RickG

March 29th, 2013
8:25 pm

Only 1 in 20 as a cheater is an acceptable benchmark???

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
8:37 pm

Rick L — enjoyed your comments. They were spot on and funny, a great combination. Please keep writing.

Sheela Na Gig

March 29th, 2013
8:56 pm

Is Rick L implying that there’s cheating at SPARK?

If you have evidence that she was implicated in he scandal, present it.

You are like a gossipy school girl. Just making little insinuations.

Have you confronted your Principal yet and accused her of being a cheater?

Or you just throw rocks on the Internet?

Rick L in Atl

March 29th, 2013
8:58 pm

After cooling down, I agree with Jerry Eads. It’s Erroll’s job to rally the troops. Just don’t try to spin parents and “stakeholders” that it’s “Mission Accomplished.” We’ve seen how that can go.

About Time

March 29th, 2013
9:00 pm

Rick L, I am sad she isn’t going to be indicted too. At least this time. But now we know karma is real so…

Julian

March 29th, 2013
9:13 pm

This problem is not confined to Atlanta and it will continue as long as student learning is based on tests. Add to that a teachers job and pay are connected to test performance. Education is in a mess and CRCT and it’s testing allies will not remedy the problem. Let teachers teach that is what they do best and have Principals and Superintendents keep the lights on and oh by they way pay them what they are really worth, LESS than teachers.

Ubelievethat

March 29th, 2013
9:40 pm

Where is Rev. Jacksonnn now…he is always concerned about the black folk…where is he now????…

Amy

March 29th, 2013
9:48 pm

And you wonder why kids that come out of APS are ill-prepared for the world, are involved in crime, and are non-productive citizens. They’re being educated by thugs and thief’s.

Amy

March 29th, 2013
9:52 pm

And you wonder why kids that come out of APS are ill-prepared for the world, are involved in crime, and are non-productive citizens. They’re being educated by thugs. What’s more incredible is that this has been going on for 12 years! It’s incredible! Is there any service in Fulton County that’s honest, respectable and credible? Are there any politicians in Fulton County that have honesty, integrity and a soul?

Centrist

March 29th, 2013
10:02 pm

Rick L in Atl last posted “After cooling down, I agree with Jerry Eads.”

Funny, I agree with Rick L before and after Jerry Eads post – which I also agree with. It was unacceptable that 1 in 20 were implicated and there were probably more, but maybe the example has shocked and corrected any past or potential cheaters. Hope springs eternal.

Rick L in Atl

March 29th, 2013
11:02 pm

@ Sheela: no, I’m not accusing her of cheating. But she was hired solely on the basis of extraordinary CRT scores that turned out to be fraudulent; if you tried to pull that off in your career, how do you think that would go? She so mismanaged the spec ed program at SPARK that a six-figure settlement had to be paid (to this day, the APS spec Ed scandal–and it was a scandal–continues to be overshadowed by the cheating scandal). She ran off excellent teachers who refused to declare fealty–a classic bev hall move. She filled out evals for teachers she never observed. She let the gym project languish until parents threatened an open revolt. I was there for all of this and more. Want to hear more details, or have you had enough? You do your “friend” no favors by provoking me, because I have many more tales to tell, and none of it is gossip. Your move.

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
11:08 pm

Amy, Hate much?

Once Again

March 29th, 2013
11:11 pm

And remember, 95% of school employees managed to not get indicted in this scandal. That is all you can take away from this. An inability to obtain sufficient evidence to indict or convict does not mean that these folks committed no crimes.

Chamblee Dad

March 29th, 2013
11:28 pm

Would he be happy if 95% of employees don’t steal school supplies? how about 95% don’t abuse students? or 95% don’t use their school computers to view porn?

Oh well, it’s not like they were educators cheating when it comes to educating young children . . . oh . . . wait . . .well . . .uh . . .

Chamblee Dad

March 29th, 2013
11:45 pm

BH says : “if you’re not cheatin’ you’re not tryin’ . . . so we were just trying really, really hard!”

Bernie

March 30th, 2013
12:58 am

The Pope’s Easter Message is “”Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the cross upon themselves as Jesus did.”

So for Easter, I am going to forgive ALL of the RACIST and BIGOTS who have commented and plan to comment HERE with Hateful and offensive rhetoric. Today and all of next week!

After that…….. I will return to the same feelings, about YOU!

seen it all

March 30th, 2013
1:08 am

I think this whole indictment thing is disgusting. The teachers were disgraced and/or fired. Let the GPSC handle it. Let it go. It’s over with now.

Tired!

March 30th, 2013
1:27 am

Errol, please go sit down and be quiet. The only time you come out of your cave is when the cameras are on. As an APS employee, none of what you write or say about how much you respect our (educators) work is true. You continue to allow the district to suffer; with the senior cabinet filled with incompetent people, this district has no hope! You talk about a climate that is better than Hall’s but you are sadly mistaken; your leadership creates a culture riddled with fear, confusion and simple compliance.
Get real – please don’t believe your own words Errol – they mean absolutely nothing! Tell it to someone with limited brain capactiy – just visit the seventh floor!

howdy1942

March 30th, 2013
1:41 am

I commend Dr. Davis and the work he has done to turn the Atlanta Public School System around. He came in, held some public forums for input, and went to work. He changed things. Shifting now to Dekalb, I hope that Michael Thurmond is able to do the same. During his first 45 days, he has talked a lot, made a lot of promises, and cracked a few jokes. Other than that, things are pretty much the same.

I hope that the Governor follows his lead in the APS case – appoint someone like Mr. Bowers to lead an investigation into the conduct of the Dekalb County School System. SACS has already stated that they found violations of State law. I’m not sure if anyone has any confidence in the District Attorney after he stated late last year that the Dekalb County School Board can police itself. Based on the SACS report, based on what has been reported in the AJC, and based on my observations of Board meetings and its decisions over the past several years, I think that rampant corruption exists in Dekalb that reaches well beyond criminal behavior. Above all, the confidence of Dekalb County residents needs to be restored. I applaud Governor Deal’s choice and appointment of a new school board. However, a new election will be held in July 2014 and the probability is just too great that the same old board types that led us into this mess will be re-elected. Before then, some fresh eyes with unbiased views that can be trusted by our people needs to look into what has already occurred and report back. I would encourage Governor Deal to do just that. He done a great job so far and I hope that he will continue to do so.

Bernie

March 30th, 2013
2:27 am

howdy1942 @ 1:41 am – Yes, I agree. I would say Governor Deal has been a very good PHARAOH! Just Love the WAY, how The Governor usurps the
VOTE of Democratically elected School Board members whom are without crimminal allegations or charges!

The Votes nullified of THOUSANDS of VOTERS! in one fell swoop!

It just gives me CHILLS and GOOSEBUMPS ALL OVER!

Who cares about VOTES and Voting anyway? it means nothing!

Maybe it does……. when it comes to GUN CONTROL?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!…… Now we are talking!

Pharaoh Defined
powerful person: somebody in a position of authority, especially somebody who is harsh, gives unreasonable orders, and expects unquestioning obedience

Too Much

March 30th, 2013
4:44 am

Were they guilty of cheating? Probably so. Should they lose their certification for this indiscretion? Yes. Should they go to prison? No.

Jono

March 30th, 2013
5:28 am

Bernie:

I think I’d be disappointed if you didn’t play the tired race card. :-)

Got anything else to contribute?

Hoohaafan

March 30th, 2013
5:47 am

Let these thieving misanthrops see their day in court and hopefully, do their penitence. What’s dastardly is the thousands of kids that we have pushed through this system who are under educated and ready to be unleashed on society for yet another tranche of government wards.

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
6:50 am

*** HONEST JULIA MARTIN ROGERS***
This morning we heard from humble East Lake elementary school teacher Julia Martin Rogers.
Julia suspected cheating was going on at her school. She documented the evidence and sent it to one of the head thugs at APS, HR Director, Millicent Few. Millicent ignored the evidence by Julia and nothing was done.
Julia endured teh same kind of harassment other teachers claim forced them to cheat…but Julia didn’t,
Julia did the right thing — and she never whined.
This is the kind of teacher we watn in our schools. Yes, we can say no to crime just as Julia has done.

jeffrey brown

March 30th, 2013
6:58 am

The prison system may get some good educators. Mix the two together and we are in big trouble when they are released.

democracy

March 30th, 2013
7:22 am

As the Beverly Hall debacle proves yet again, a fish rots from the head down.

Rotten, crooked, dogmatic, inhumane, authoritarian “leadership” –– wherever it’s imposed –– creates a culture that reflects its on amoral “values.” Anyone even the least bit familiar with the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals understands what ensues.

The kind of school “reform” that Beverly Hall championed has a track record that’s as poor as that of supply-side economics. And it has the same deleterious effect: it makes things worse. But perhaps that’s the point. The corporate “reformers” – and Hall was one – offer up more testing, more charter schools, merit pay, and vouchers as their “reforms.” Research supports none of them. But maybe that’s the point. The “reformers” really want to cash in on public school funding. The conservative foundations (Gates, Walton, Broad) and Wall Streeters all fund the same kinds of “reforms” touted by charlatans like Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, and Arne Duncan.

Let’s be clear here. The kind of “reform” pushed by Wall Street, much of corporate America, and conservative critics is precisely what American public education does not need. But Obama’s Race to the Top amplifies it.

American public education’s core purpose, from its inception, was democratic citizenship. The idea is traceable to Aristotle. who argued for a system of public education in Athens when one did not exist. Aristotle wrote that the “citizen should be molded to suit the form of government under which he lives.” Each government has a “peculiar character” that is based on its core values and practices. Aristotle wrote that “the character of democracy creates democracy…and always the better the character the better the government.” And public schools, he said, were critical to the maintenance and well-being of democratic character. Democracy, he wrote, depends on education “being one and the same for all….public, and not private…all [citizens] are part of the state, and the care of each part is inseparable from the care of the whole.”

Our system of public education was founded on Aristotle’s principles. But we’ve strayed far from our mission and purpose. Our “leaders” – mostly – have misled us. We have let ourselves get misled.

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The SAT and ACT are tests that don’t predict much, and measure nothing better than family, and AP isn’t much better. Climate change and global warming are for real. So is evolution. The “free market” called Wall Street is very heavily rigged, and subsidized, with privatized gains and socialized losses, and this is the type of education “reform” endorsed by the “business community.”

The same “community” that pushed supply-side economics. That broke the economy, and evaded accountability, and asked for a huge bailout. That demands more tax cuts for themselves and cuts in public services. In comments on the Atlanta cheating scandal, Governor Purdue said he “was dumbfounded that the business community would not want the truth…Business was insisting on accountability, but they didn’t want real accountability.”

The fish rots from the head down.

Steve from Tucker

March 30th, 2013
7:35 am

Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. The criminals who have abused the children of Atlanta for so many years will finally be brought to justice. Beverly Hall won’t be allowed to hide. The honest teachers who suffered her intimidation and saw liars, thieves, and cheaters rewarded will finally see evil punished.
Now maybe the honest teachers remaining can get back to the job of educating our children.

HENRY A. TURNER, ATTORNEY AT LAW

March 30th, 2013
7:44 am

Maureen: If convicted does Dr. Hall get to keep her Taxpayer funded Pension and other gold plated retirement benefits?

atlmom

March 30th, 2013
7:44 am

I wonder how many of those indicted were Democrats and how many were Republicans, just curious.

CLaude Balls

March 30th, 2013
7:49 am

What were these kids doing in school besides learning. What were the teachers doing. Where will they work. I hop Paul Howard does not lay another egg and is able to follow through with the incarceration of everyone of these degenerates. The world will see if they really want to punish these criminals.

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
8:01 am

atlmom, why?
Plenty of crooks in both parties.

About Time

March 30th, 2013
8:07 am

I am going to be highly disappointed if there is not a “perp walk” on the news next week. As an ex APS employee who worked at PMS, I am beyond excited! I hope they all rot. You cannot imagine what it was like to work for such trash.

Jack ®

March 30th, 2013
8:08 am

All Democrats. No doubt.

Grob Hahn

March 30th, 2013
8:12 am

This is a case of racism at its best example. This was racism perpetuated against black children because someone decided they weren’t smart enough to win her an award. It doesn’t matter that she was also black as were all the criminals in her crew, it’s still blatant racism. Can we blame slavery or Jim Crow for this? Or will someone finally admit that this was not caused by white people? Like it or not, black Americans are their own worst enemy. They cheat each other and kill each other in far more numbers than white people have throughout US history. But, we ALL know the “Card” will be played soon enough in this matter.
Grobbbbbbbbbb

southern hope

March 30th, 2013
8:24 am

You know what is really sad about this (and i’m speaking from the perspective of a parent with 2 kids in APS), the kids in the poor neighborhoods (the ones that had the cheating teachers & principals) can’t afford to go to another school so they’ll continue in the system. And the folks who live in the more affluent areas will assume that the schools are absolutely terrible and not put their kids in their local schools. (which then leads to weaker schools). So everybody suffers, no one wins (well, private schools who want to raise their tuition are big winners).

nwdnanny

March 30th, 2013
8:47 am

I wondered how long it would take before the comments use the race card with this. I knew before I saw all the pictures of those indicted that they were black…NOT surprised. As someone said in an earlier post Blacks in America are their own worst enemy. Truth be known this is probably the tip of the iceberg…

Dumb n Dumber

March 30th, 2013
8:51 am

Oh my, the lawyers say clients are innocent. Would a lying lawyer be lying if his lips are moving? Why in the world do news media always quote a lying lawyer? Throw all,of them in jail including their lawyers!

George P. Burdell

March 30th, 2013
8:54 am

Testing is a waste of taxpayer money. It also reduces instruction time. North Korean spies push it to bring our country to its knees.

othello

March 30th, 2013
8:59 am

after all these crooks get thrown in jail the governor needs to get rid of davis–he’s clueless and overpaid

Dave

March 30th, 2013
9:05 am

This is not something new. Cheating on tests at APS has been going on for decades…not just under Beverly Hall’s reign of terror. Cheating was evident in the schools during J. Jerome Harris’ and Ben Canada’s et al tenure too.

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 30th, 2013
9:06 am

Race-baiting @Bernie providing comic relief again today? Or has he gone back to looking for scapegoats excusing his own failures?

Sheela Na Gig

March 30th, 2013
9:08 am

Rick,

You accused her of being a part of the cheating scandal.

Now you change the argument to whether she mismanaged special ed and a gym. That’s a separate issue.

I don’t know her at all. Just seems incindiary to claim she was part of a coverup. I look forward to you coming to APS with your inside info.