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.


Erroll B. Davis Jr.


–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

214 comments Add your comment


March 30th, 2013
9:09 am

This raises an obvious question.

How many just didn’t get caught?


March 30th, 2013
9:41 am

Not all blacks are “thugs, rap music loving coke heads, theirs, murderers, etc and so on”. Not all whites are shining examples of civilized, successful, well to do citizens. A thief is a thief, a murderer is a murderer, a drug dealer a drug dealer, etc without regards to the color of skin. It comes down to PERSONAL CHOICES! being born black does not sentence one to a life of crime, nor does being born white put you on easy street. However, and this needs to be said, we have now seen multiple generations be born and raised under the teachings of Jesse Jackson, al sharpton, Joseph lowery, etc and so on. Never have I heard any of these men preach personal accountability, family values, owning up to your personal failures and striving to rise above them. These men have cheated the black population out of their birthright by telling them everything is someone else’s (white man) fault, and to complain loud enough to be pacified. We now have a black president which proves that anything is possible, no, achievable here in the USA. Sadly, leaders such as those previously mentioned, have derailed the black population as a whole by not leading them to work hard, apply themselves, and purpose themselves to be successful, but to sit back and do nothing. Jesse Jackson….a “reverend”…. has a child out of wedlock….has had tax issues….this is who they look for to guidance? Before the haters jump on me, I’m not being racist or hateful, just honest and this needs to be said. The only people Jesse and al and the bunch want to help is themselves. Old country saying says ” put your doctor in your will and you never will get well”… Why is it that blacks can forgive the sins of blacks and not whites? Also, before anyone jumps on me to defend their color, heritage, etc…I will ask you this…do you know who Ben Carson is? Probably one of the best role models a young black could strive to emulate….sadly no, most of you don’t… Sad, we don’t all have to live this way. Personal choices, peer pressure, desperation, lack of positive role models, lack of family unit, selling ones self short because of ” perceptions” all add up to a less than optimum life- regardless of skin color. Wake up theives, druggies, etc…you don’t have to live this way. Choose to rise above it, and grab on to the guy next to you trying to rise up himself, regardless of skin color, as it gets easier with help. Peace to all.

Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
10:00 am

AJC reader to Davis,
Remember when you frog-marched those workers out of North Atlanta High School? What was that about? Don’t call me an employee. I won’t work for you. You scare me, you from the big office with the conference room with pictures of only black people on the walls. The employees you told to clean out desk and frog-marched out of work place with security like something from Stasi police East Germany, did I mention they were all white? And you did this based on a “rumor of racism from a parent?” because the school did not throw a party for their child? You scare me Mr.Davis, and whether you or I like it or not, I could not ever work for you. The odd part is I’m from Atlanta and I don’t know where you came from.


March 30th, 2013
10:11 am

All these gleeful posts! I haven’t seen this much Schadenfreude since that wardrobe malfunction by the famous Blitzen Leiderhosen Slap Dancers during the 2004 Octoberfest in Munich.

So just what kind of consequence are these racketeers facing? Fines? Imprisonment? Detention? Slap on the wrist? Write on the chalkboard “I will not commit racketeering ever again” 500 times?

Look how many names are indicted! We’ll have to build a new jail.

Google "NEA" and "union"

March 30th, 2013
10:18 am

50 percent of African-Americans blame the failure of the education system for minorities/African-Americans for high unemployment among blacks, says Black Entertainment Television founder.

ref: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/bet-founder-country-would-never-tolerate-white-unemployment-14-or-15-percent


March 30th, 2013
10:20 am

Most criminals get away.

Wake up Legislators

March 30th, 2013
10:30 am

We need ELECTED SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS IN GEORGIA. Then they stand to do things right……school systems are being a political mess with appointed superintendents. So evidently the bill died. Why? All ways some type of politics. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Well,. this back scratching did not work in APS. So, let us have elected school superintendents statewide or put it on the ballot for individual counties to decide about their own counties. ? Please wake up and smell the coffee. You need to check on the smaller school systems…..alot could be going on……..


March 30th, 2013
10:38 am

The timing of this is very curious. It screams like a warning to everyone who will be giving these tests in three weeks. This is not going to change until the tests go away and are no longer tied to people keeping their jobs. I would argue that it’s going to get worse now that teacher evaluations are tied to test results. Cheaters are gonna cheat. They are going to do what they want to do regardless of these indictments. I don’t understand why teachers feel the need to cheat. If you at each kids how to think you will see results on the test. Stop being lazy teachers and making excuses. Teach the children and respect the children and they will provide the desired results.


March 30th, 2013
10:47 am

95% were not caught. M any, many teachers all across Georgia are counting their lucky stars now.

Rick L in ATL

March 30th, 2013
10:52 am

@Sheela: no, the point is that not everyone who was dirty was removed from the system. Unless you believe a principal has no responsibility for a nearly 1/3 cheating rate among her staff.

But let’s say for argument’s sake that she didn’t know a third of her teachers were cheaters. She still rode those falsified test scores to the gig at SPARK, and as a result, SPARK parents–who could have had a world-class principal for their beautiful little school, have a thoroughly mediocre leader, cut from the same cloth as Bev Hall, who has proved over and over that she can’t be the strong, dynamic leader that the school deserves and needs.

Even to this day, this principal’s obsession with test scores squeezes any joy out of the elementary school experience. The school’s wealth of technology–which would be the envy of many a school–goes mostly underutilized.

My point–and I don’t blame you for not seeing it, because it’s not readily apparent even to many SPARK parents–is that the trickle-down effect of this scandal is long-lasting and pernicious. How many of the unindicted “leaders” of APS remain on the payroll, and how can quantify the damage they do, or, rather, the improvements we are missing out on because we continue to employ them?

To say that they do not continue to drag the system down is folly. My example of the SPARK principal is just one among many. In the real world, if you get a job because of falsified data (even if you didn’t falsify it yourself), you get tossed. Only in a government monopoly does this not happen.

Formula: BH=NCLN

March 30th, 2013
11:01 am




March 30th, 2013
11:18 am

Can’t call any non-white a criminal……that is racist!
Here are the facts:
1. This system is by far and away “minority” and will be that way for the forseeable future.
2. All the laws, opinions, etc. will not change #1.
3. It, therefore, must be largely up to the black community to place an emphasis on putting quality people in office, stop the nepotism and using the school system as a job-field for friends, family, etc.
4. It likewise is up to the community to place a real emphasis on discipline, the importance of a good education, and the realization that without it the cycle will continue. Warehousing kids is not gonna work. My mom was in the public education system many years, and unfortunately, there were way too many kids who were 1/2 brothers and sisters with different dads and not enough parental guidance. That is not an indictment on all minorities, but is far too common. This behaviour has nothing to do with poverty.
5. White flight will continue, as once equality (rightfully so) was achieved, minorities reacted by not taking responsibility, but putting unqualified buffoons in office. As long as they “keep it real”, who was on the school boards was secondary.
These are hard words, but for a sustem that

What's the difference

March 30th, 2013
11:20 am

Government schools are basically just prisons anyway. These folks will feel right at home, just like all the kids that ultimately end up in adult prisons.


March 30th, 2013
11:20 am

CONTINUED: system that will be what it is, folks could minimally try to do the right thing by putting in responsible folks and then not expect the school to do their job.


March 30th, 2013
11:30 am

skipper – 11:20

Think of how many times, over the years, you have heard and read about “civil rights”.

Then, count the number of times you have heard and read about “civil responsibilities”.

After all is said and done, that is the heart of our race related social problems.


March 30th, 2013
11:43 am

Unfortunately, in many cases civil rights and civil responsibilities do not go hand in hand.

not the same anymore

March 30th, 2013
11:44 am

Now why isn’t President Bush indicted too…He ultimately started the whole “No Child Left Behind” that created the culture of cheating. The bigger issue here is that students are not the hard working students WE used to be. Come to a school-any school- and you will see lazy, unmotivated kids that want to play on computers all day. I said PLAY because that is all they desire to do. We make excuses for them and say things like “they are a new generation, they need to do hands-on-things and move around so teachers need to be more tech savy now.” If WE learned without all the “toys” so can they..I am against these indictments. I think they should look at the problem as to WHY these teachers felt the need to cheat in the first place and then and only then can we progress forward…ASK any teacher about how their students are at school and you will hear them say the same things–they are unmotivated, not willing to work hard, want the easiest way to do something, and want to play on internet all DAY…..Oh AND they all think they are going to be famous, have their own reality show or be a famous athlete..stop the madness now


March 30th, 2013
11:48 am

Superintendent Davis sent the above letter to APS employees; and it shows his strong corporate experience as one-time CEO of a major energy company in Wisconsin. I can only imagine how demoralized and ashamed these employees must feel at this time, especially those at the schools mentioned in the indictment. It’s very hard to continue teaching effectively when you’re feeling that way; and I find his letter quite appropriate.

The belief that one is innocent until proven guilty is the foundation of our legal system; and we should remember that about those still in the Atlanta Public Schools.

Ed Johnson

March 30th, 2013
12:17 pm

Back in 2005, when asked: “What is your view of the job being done by APS Superintendent Hall and do you support her staying in her post?”

I offered: “I support Dr. Hall neither staying in nor leaving her post. You see, it’s not about Dr. Hall. It’s about the APS having a superintendency that can advance to new ways of thinking and, in the process, model democratic ideals and lead continual improvement of the whole APS system of teaching and learning. Our APS has yet to have such a superintendency.”

Today, if asked: What is your view of the job being done by APS Superintendent Davis and do you support his staying in his post?

I shall offer: I support Mr. Davis neither staying in nor leaving his post. You see, it’s not about Mr. Davis. It’s about the APS having a superintendency that can advance to new ways of thinking and, in the process, model democratic ideals and lead continual improvement of the whole APS system of teaching and learning. Our APS has yet to have such a superintendency.

Why no difference? Well, actually, Mr. Davis tells why in what we might list as his “A System of Six Corks for APS:”

1. “[W]e are ready to put this troubling episode behind us.”
2. “[W]e will maintain the expectation that all employees conform to the highest ethical standards established in APS.”
3. “[R]equiring all employees to complete annual ethics training as a condition of employment”
4. “[W]e have done considerable work both to prevent and to punish cheating.”
5. “[C]ultivating an ethical organization”
6. “[O]ur children will succeed when the adults around them work hard, work together, and do so with integrity.”

Davis’ “A System of Six Corks for APS” effectively puts a stopper on Hall-inspired systemic dysfunction, so dissuades going at root causes of systemic dysfunction with the aim to learn to eliminate them.

A prime example of this is Davis’ continued use of Hall’s business-style “Balanced Scorecard” that concentrates and categories, in one convenient place, numerous numerical goals (targets) and progress toward achieving the numerical goals (targets), over time. The Balanced Scorecard is likened to the dashboard in automobiles, and to the cockpit control panel in airplanes. Problem is, automobiles and airplanes are mechanical systems, not social systems, such as APS.

Hall used the Balanced Scorecard for malevolent purposes; Davis seems to believe he can use the Balanced Scorecard for benevolent purposes. He cannot, for the Balanced Scorecard is, by its very nature, an instrument the use of which unavoidably cultivates fear and intimidation within especially social systems, such as APS. For APS, the Balanced Scorecard remains a root cause of systemic dysfunction.

So, just think of what’s to come when Davis’ “A System of Six Corks for APS” fails to effectively stopper the pressure from within and the corks pop, yet again.

Where is Kathy

March 30th, 2013
12:47 pm

Where is the deputy superintendent? Did she fold for a deal? Come on fools of Georgia! She was the head of instruction! How come she is not on the list? She sold Dr. Hall out for something that she led. Also, folks Dr. Hall did her best to elevate the white community in Atlanta which is filled with all kinds of crack heads, dope addicted and sexual deviants. The difference is that no one goes after white folks and most black folks are too foolish to see that this is all about race.


March 30th, 2013
12:51 pm

The city of ATL school system has failed its students and taxpayers. When you have a bonus system based on results people will find a way to cheat. When it starts at the top Dr. B. Hall, if guilty should be fined and jail time along with everyone who participated.

95% of the staff has done the right thing. Get the race stuff off the board, these are all educators who were trusted to help young people learn and grow. It appears they have failed. What does the teachers union have to say?

Where is Kathy

March 30th, 2013
1:04 pm

Where is Kathy


March 30th, 2013
1:04 pm

Dave…”Cheating on tests at APS has been going on for decades”

Do you really know how some other ‘protected’ schools cheat ? What hypocrites some of you are , from the governor down!!!!

Top School

March 30th, 2013
1:21 pm

Paulo977 – Yes, the protected schools namely: Warren T. Jackson and its leadership just have more manipulative ways of cheating. Though, the soiled hands of the administrator have a proper paper trail, the affluent have better ways of squelching any information that would damage their neighborhood school. Rather they “LIKE” having a corrupt leader, so they can easily force the changes of their child’s grades. When the money flows the principal manipulates those private school applications and grades to the paying parents delight. All “in-house” operations that any “former” Jackson teacher can share. Those still employed must continue to KEEP the IN-HOUSE secret.


March 30th, 2013
1:28 pm

Interesting that today’s New York Times’s front page news story on the indictments focuses in some detail on, among other things, Beverly Hall’s “strong ties to local business leaders.” The article notes that when governor Perdue “challenged the test results that underpinned everything – even though he was a conservative Republican businessman – he met strong resistance from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.” Governor Perdue even noted that “(t)here was extensive subtle pressure…They’d say ‘Do you really think there is anything there? We have to make sure we don’t hurt the city. Good friends broke with me over this.”

And of course the 800 page state report on the APS cheating scandal leveled scathing criticism about the role of the Atlanta Metro Chamber when the scandal broke as their members advised Beverly Hall regarding how to structure the initial investigation she undertook which was so discredited. The role of the Atlanta Metro Chamber needs to be thoroughly vetted as these criminal indictments for RICO conspiracy proceed. Click here for NYT article:


Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
1:38 pm

As an APS family, we are ready to put this troubling episode behind us.

Culty “family” talk is not good management.

At the same time, we will maintain the expectation that all employees

Oh, okay. Back down to earth. “Employees” with no rights in the “right to work” state. Read a heartbreaking comment on line, not education related, person said they were fired because they “did not fit in” was the reason used, and there was nothing they could do about it in a “right to work” state where a person serves at the pleasure of their employer. I wonder if their workplace, too, was “a family,” according to management.

I have nothing but admiration for our teachers and principals.

Was it within the last 12 months that you marched a principal out of the workplace based on “rumor.” I do not think you have rights to claim “nothing but admiration” or other generalised feel-good claims. Did this admiration arrive after you marched employees out of the workplace? Lest someone thinks I make things up, let me summon as article about this “admiration” in action by Mr. Davis. Just a brief six months ago, “In his explanation… to… parents and students at North Atlanta High on why he gutted the school’s leadershiphttp://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/10/10/the-morning-after-did-erroll-davis-provide-a-convincing-case-for-the-north-atlanta-high-shakeup/

In Mr. Davis’ world, “admiration” = “gut the fish.” And the fish just happen to be 100% white fish and none of it was about test cheating, it was the big old race card in full play used as justification. Hey Errol, in the dictionary next to the word “irony” there’s a picture of you.

Dr. John Trotter

March 30th, 2013
1:56 pm

The first thing that Erroll Davis needs to do is re-vamp the APS Complaints Policy which, as I pointed out in a post or two on Friday, egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia Code (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.). Destiny Washington, the attorney who was acting as Davis´s designee, shut down a grievance hearing on Friday when I just would not let her talk over me when I was cross-examining a principal (Tyronne Smith of Mays High School). APS´s actions relative to grievances/complaints are still unconscionable under the Erroll Davis Administration.

Now about Beverly Hall and the indictments: All one has to do is go to the MACE website and see that it was us who were warning about “systematic cheating” on the sreets of Atlanta and DeKalb, calling both systems “gansta systems” in writing and on the streets with picket signs well before there was any talk about investigating the Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis administrations. So much for a prophetic voice, heh?

So many of the administrators indicted have been the target of MACE (articles, our Needs Improvement List, pickets, letters, etc.) in the past. We never called them “criminals.” But, it looks like Paul Howard has stepped up to the plate. I too believe that their actions were criminal, but we always leave the criminal stuff up to the prosecutors. I am impressed with Paul Howard´s mettle in prosecuting from the very top on down.

know the truth

March 30th, 2013
1:56 pm

Top School, why you have not been sued for libel is beyond me…Dr. Reich is one of the finest leaders I know, and is adored by students, parents, and teachers. You, on the other hand, do not want me to tell what we all know about your stupid stunts (going in drag to a faculty meeting ring any bells??) Warren T Jackson has been, and continues to be, an outstanding school with an outstanding faculty and administration. Get over yourself…you didn’t cut it there, and were dismissed with cause. I
wouldn’t be surprised if you are hearing from lawyers soon, if you continue your slander and libel.


March 30th, 2013
1:58 pm

skipper – 11:43


And many, if not most of our racial social problems make this all too clear.

Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
2:04 pm

Just a side note, outside of the Atlanta metropolitan area, the big league news about DCSS and APS is not being reported, or is a tiny little line somewhere. For example, the Macon Telegraph has nothing on the front page about this information – check for yourself. http://www.macon.com/news/

In other words, on a state level, local communities are not getting “the news.” It is a weird thing. Each of the towns are little fiefdoms, which fits in with the assumed and unquestioned power of local school boards.

I dropped my fried twinkie

March 30th, 2013
2:10 pm

Where are the White people involved in this scandal?

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
2:21 pm

Reality, very well said.

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
2:23 pm

Another gem: “BH = NCLB Beverly Hall = NO CASH LEFT BEHIND
One good thing about the scandal, if it is possible to even look at the bright side, is that this tragedy has brought out some of the best comedy writers I’ve ever read.
Thanks for the smile.

Maureen Downey

March 30th, 2013
2:25 pm

@Dropped your twinkie. To your question, where are the white people?

Perhaps too busy being involved in the Gwinnett County government scandal.

Or perhaps too busy with one of the worst local government scandals in US history: (This one has a rogue’s gallery where you might notice none of the eight convicted government officials is black.)

No one mentions they are all white because these eight officials are not seen as representatives of the entire white race. They are simply seen as eight crooks.

Yet, a black person who does wrong is somehow a surrogate for the entire race?
Please, spare us this racist nonsense.
No race has a monopoly on self-serving actions. Look at the corruption cases in Georgia for the last 25 years and you will see that greed is color blind.

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
2:25 pm

Private Citizen,
Perhaps Macon and other non-metro towns are simply ashamed to be in the same State as Atlanta.

Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
2:29 pm

Dr, Trotter,
“APS Complaints Policy which, as I pointed out in a post or two on Friday, egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia Code (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.)”

Would it not then be appropriate to put them in court for the purpose of a judge informing them that they must follow the law? Is this not the correct course of action?


March 30th, 2013
2:30 pm

Maureen – 2:25

Nice try at a dodge.

Unfortunately, I dropped is talking about white TEACHERS involved in SCHOOL cheating.

Where are they? Or, are there only a few, or none?

And why is this?

And why aren’t you talking about what would prompt thise Black teachers to encourge cheating in the first place?

Georgia coach

March 30th, 2013
2:31 pm

You had nothing to do with the indictments, John. Keep defending incompetent teachers.

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
2:47 pm

What is also fascinating is the level of decorum and grace displayed by the indicted.
Tamara comes to mind who “advised principals to refuse to cooperate with the cheating inquiry. ..and told the principals to write and read aloud memos telling state investigators to “go to hell.”

Why, yes, telling state investigators to go to hell will always make your case better and will show everyone that you are a classy and educated woman.
This stuff is so funny you can’t make it up.

southern hope

March 30th, 2013
2:49 pm

for a non-racist view of this news….and very insightful & smart comments on this news, see the comments attached to the New York Times piece…it’ll make (some of you :) feel a lot less in despair about what it means for Atlanta:

Pride and Joy

March 30th, 2013
2:51 pm

And then there is Shayla, a teacher, who when asked by investigators why she cheated said her students were “dumb as hell.”
Why waste time watching Jimmy Fallon when there is such a hilarious comedy show at APS.

Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
2:52 pm

Georgia coach, There you are! Have you now formulated per our prior communication, “What is an incompetent teacher?” I’d really like to know. C’mon, now. You said it was a reasonable question.

Dr. John Trotter

March 30th, 2013
2:53 pm

@ “Gerogia coach” (an admitted administrator): To the contrary, it is about defending good, effective teachers against angry, abusive, petty, smallminded, and incompetent administrators. No wonder you have a problem with me. I would be disappointed if you liked me. Very disappointed.

@ Private Citizen: Direct action is much quicker and much more effective.

Private Citizen

March 30th, 2013
3:02 pm

but Dr. John, I ask, What is the correct action?, not what is expedient. For one thing, case law creates a record / precedent.

mountain man

March 30th, 2013
3:06 pm

So who hired Beverly Hall? Are they responsible?


March 30th, 2013
3:16 pm

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

mountain man

March 30th, 2013
3:20 pm

“Keep defending incompetent teachers.”

And how do you define “incompetent”, Georgia Coach, not giving in to blackmail to CHEAT?

mountain man

March 30th, 2013
3:23 pm

The way some people look at it in here, they would say EVERY German soldier in WWII should have been lined up and shot for carrying out Hitler’s orders.


March 30th, 2013
3:25 pm

So 95% percent were not involved in cheating. Doing some quick math, I infer 5% of the employees were involved in cheating. Ok – lets kind of get focused here and admit that 5% is one big-time over the top amazingly large number! I could get the defense if .00001% were involved. But 5%? Like Mr. Grizzard once noted – “I don’t think I’d told that.”

Hey, the Atlanta Chamber said to move along – nothing to see here. It is going to be fun to read all of the spin coming out of this about how it ain’t so bad, it’s all fixed, blah, blah, blah.

Hey parents of children cheated out of sveral years of an education – don’t you have a cause of action for damages against the school system? I can see the need for the cost of remedial courses all throughout the remainder of the child’s education, including college – all courtesy of the Atlanta School System. Tee it up – you have a good shot.

MACE is tiny & third-rate

March 30th, 2013
3:30 pm

Johnny Trotter’s instincts regarding professional incompetence unfortunately do command some respect.

For all the wrong reasons.