Former Atlanta school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others indicted in APS cheating case

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was among 35 people indicted today in APS cheating scandal.  (AJC photo)

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was among 35 people indicted today in APS cheating scandal. (AJC photo)

Among those named in the indictment handed down tonight by a Fulton County grand jury looking into the APS cheating scandal is former school chief Beverly Hall.

Hall and 34 others were indicted as a result of their alleged roles in the 2009 cheating scandal that toppled her regime, sullied the district’s reputation and raised doubts about testing integrity nationwide.

In the indictments, there was only one count of racketeering, which carries up to 20 years in prison. But the alleged acts of false statements and writings, influencing a witness, theft by taking were the underlying crimes that supported the racketeering charge.

Out of 65 counts, one was racketeering, two were influencing a witness, five were theft by taking and the remaining counts concerned the crime of making false statements or writings.

The cheating discovered by the AJC in Atlanta has since been uncovered in many other school districts around the country.

Here is the indictment list. (WSB)
Here is the indictment list. (WSB)

According to the AJC:

Former Atlanta school Superintendent Beverly Hall was the leader of a corrupt organization that used students’ test scores to earn bonuses if they rose or intimidation and termination if they fell, according to a 65-count indictment returned Friday.

Grand jurors have been meeting for months, sorting out the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, and on Friday they made clear their outrage at what they had been hearing by setting a bond of $7.5 million for Hall. She and the other 34 indicted – all for racketeering – have until Tuesday to surrender. They reached a decision after 45 minutes of deliberation.

“The whole purpose behind this is to vindicate the little children who got gypped out of a quality education,” said former Attorney General Michael Bowers, one of three investigators who produced the report that was the blueprint for the grand jury and the final witness to testify before the grand jurors voted.

The indictment says Hall and the other 34 named “conspired” to make the school district look like it was more successful than it was.

The 90-page indictment says Hall put pressure on subordinates to reach goals on standardized tests.  “APS principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated,” states the indictment.

Those indicted included 13 teachers, one secretary, at least six principals, two assistant principals and seven testing testing coordinators.

Along with Hall, four other top administrators were charged. Among the names in the indictment were Milicent Few, head of human resources; Tamara Cotman, area director;  Christopher Waller, principal of Parks Middle School where seven educators confessed to cheating, and five others were implicated; and former area superintendent Michael Pitts. Kathy Augustine, the deputy superintendent for most of Hall’s tenure, was not among the 35.

So how does someone go from being national Superintendent of the Year, consulting with Bill Gates and Arne Duncan, to criminal indictment? That question will be considered by many people in the next few days. I suspect that a test-driven culture in which a school’s worth is solely predicated on test scores will be among the reasons offered.

But there were also the ego boosts that came from leading a district that did well on tests. National and international attention is heaped on education systems that outperform others. Monetary awards were only part of it; there was also glory of being considered a savant, a leader among leaders.

–From Maureen Downey, the AJC Get Schooled blog

154 comments Add your comment

irisheyes

March 29th, 2013
5:18 pm

Glad to see Beverly Hall is getting her due. None of this would have happened if she hadn’t been so focused on showing improvement whether those improvements were happening or not.

Shar

March 29th, 2013
5:20 pm

This has taken so long that it is trembling on the edge of “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Let’s hope that the court cases are not as slow in coming and that Hall’s (and her subordinates’) day in court is swift and unequivocal.

Atlanta has lost too much already.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:21 pm

WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Mikey D.

March 29th, 2013
5:21 pm

Long overdue. And a bit surprising. I figured they’d slam the teachers at the bottom of the food chain and let the big wigs skate. That’s usually the way it happens.
(BTW, any chance a grand jury in DC will bring an indictment against Michelle Rhee?!?! I mean, the two ladies are practically carbon-copies of each other.)

The DEEP Pockets of Taxpayers

March 29th, 2013
5:22 pm

Thank goodness they changed their policy of using our money to defend ciminals. And, Thank God for the AJC’s reporting, or it would not have happend.

Accomodations

March 29th, 2013
5:28 pm

Hopefully, there will be some transgender cellls house some of those upper level folks. They are truly a rare buuch of individuals.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:34 pm

Mikey D you said “I figured they’d slam the teachers at the bottom of the food chain and let the big wigs skate.”
Many posters said the same thing, Mikey D.
I hope that this new turn of events will give every honest teacher a reason to stay honest and to report crimes by their peers and supervisors.

Mom of 3

March 29th, 2013
5:34 pm

I believe this is all a result of relying on standardized tests as the end all be all. I have not doubt this is going on all over our state and country. I’m not making excuses for Hall, but when unreasonable expectations are handed out, what can really be expected? The students are the ones that are really suffering because so much focus is put on these tests. When are the decision makers going to see the big picture?

Chamblee Dad

March 29th, 2013
5:34 pm

Beverly Hall? . . . YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:39 pm

It really is Good Friday :)

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:41 pm

Mom of 3 you claim the root of it all is standardized tests.
How did standardized tests cause teachers and the principal at DH Stanton to hit a kid in the head and hide other child abuse?
Please enlighten us.

Wondering Allowed

March 29th, 2013
5:42 pm

Did Augustine agree to testify for the state in exchange for immunity from prosecution?

erin

March 29th, 2013
5:42 pm

Wow … impressive long list!

It will be itneresting to see how long it takes for any of this to actually end up in court … IF it does, at all …

*also, waiting to see what Beverly Fraud has to say about any of this … because you know she will have commentary and lots of it!* ;)

The DEEP Pockets of Taxpayers

March 29th, 2013
5:44 pm

Hall’s not to old to go jail. Heck, I’m a senior citizen and if I steal a bag of chips….I get arrested and face the full wrath of the justice system.

In this instance we’re talking about multiple millions of state and federal dollars. And, please don’t even begin to think of the damage done the lives of children who needed remedial help but “Scored to HIgh” to receive special service.

These THUGS deserve absolutely no sympathy!!!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:46 pm

Wondering Aloud, good question. How about Augustine? Did she turn on Heavy Bevvy?
I hope so.
She knows a lot because she is guilty of a great deal and her testimony would likely corroborate what everyone beneath her has said.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:47 pm

Where is Beverly Fraud?
Beverly, Beverly come out and play.

Wondering Allowed

March 29th, 2013
5:51 pm

@Pride and Joy – And at the end of the day, Augustine might not think what she did was wrong, but she knows she did what is being charged. Staying out of jail must be a priority with her. If she did turn state’s evidence, the others will know they are in deep crap.

FatLeo

March 29th, 2013
5:53 pm

Does this mean Ms. Hall might have to give up her pension and possibly forgo future Hawaiian vacations?

Lee

March 29th, 2013
5:55 pm

You think NOW they will take away that Superintendent of the Year award? Probably not.

I am also surprised at this news. Too bad they let Beverly retire instead of terminating her with cause – like they should have done.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:55 pm

Wondering “If she did turn state’s evidence, the others will know they are in deep crap.”
yes, Deep, deep, deep doo doo.
I’m actually smiling now.
I feel a great weekend coming on.
THANK YOU AJC for investigating! Please do more!

UGA ECONOMICS MAJOR

March 29th, 2013
5:57 pm

the biggest losers are the black american kids.who already have a tough time time ahead of them and against them with jobs etc…i hope they throw the book at hall..this as well as numerous other things have given Atlanta a blackeye..while vacationing in hawaii a retired school teacher from oregon ask me about this ..how embarrasing

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
5:58 pm

To teachers everywhere–
Beverly Hall received a HALF MILLION DOLLARS in bonuses for her crimes.
500k.
Teachers work ten years to earn 500K.
Beverly Hall got that much as a bonus for cheating on top of her 250K annual salary.
How does that make you feel?

Luckydog

March 29th, 2013
5:58 pm

Me

March 29th, 2013
5:59 pm

So the taxpayers of Georgia get to pay for this now; Detroit Part 2.

Bernie Madoff

March 29th, 2013
5:59 pm

My kind of woman!

OldGrunt

March 29th, 2013
6:00 pm

This is a great first step, but the legal process needs to play out. If proven guilty, all 35 should pay with hard time. They have stolen the futures of THOUSANDS of kids. Hall accepted over $500,000 in bonus money for SERVICES NOT PERFORMED. That is tantamount to theft by taking.

It appears the Dr. Augustine must have turned states evidence. She no doubt made a plea deal, and turned the tables on the others. Will be interesting to see how many others down the chain will cop a plea before they go to trial.

Think that those who threatened kids should get to spend time in ‘the general population’ and see how they are treated. Hotel Do Right can provide some memorable ‘events’.

Hope that other systems throughout the Country will take note, and take similar action: Philly, St Louis, New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and LA for starters.

THANK YOU AJC FOR RATTING OUT THESE CHEATS. Maybe we can get back to some degree of basic education for our kids in Atlanta after the CROOKS ARE BEHIND BARS!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
6:01 pm

“You think NOW they will take away that Superintendent of the Year award? Probably not.”
Well, how about we make our own award to give her?
how about:
Instead of superintendent of the year…we give her…
STUPID INTENTION of the year award.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
6:03 pm

Anyone care to start an online petition to ask O’Bama to take back the Superintendent of the year award he gave to Beverly Hall?
Maybe we can get the plaque back and auction it off on ebay and give the money to charity.

Mary Elizabeth

March 29th, 2013
6:06 pm

“The 90-page indictment says Hall put pressure on subordinates to reach goals on standardized tests.”
=================================================

This is why students’ standardized test scores should only be used for diagnostic purposes – in order simply to assess an individual student’s correct instructional placement and an individual student’s correct level of instruction.

This is, also, why a business model for public schools is actually hurtful to public education and why a business model will, in the end, counteract what public education must be about – the blooming of each student’s inherent potential, without unrealistic expectations and pressures.

NWGA Teacher

March 29th, 2013
6:06 pm

Dr No No

March 29th, 2013
6:10 pm

Hang em all with their pointed toed high heels on!!!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
6:10 pm

Mary Elizabeth, the standardized tests did not make teachers hit a child in the head; they did not make a teacher push a child down and drag them. Standardized tests did not force anyone to change attendance records nor did they force those DH Stanton employees to hide child abuse.
I like you, ME, but in this case at DH Stanton, there was waaaaaaay more than cheatinng on standardized tests.
There are dishonest, repugnant teachers and school staff members in metro Atlanta and they reflect poorly on the teaching profession everywhere.

k singh

March 29th, 2013
6:11 pm

does she realize how many kids she has set up for failure . a lot maybe morally wounded in wrongfully thinking that cheating is all right

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

March 29th, 2013
6:13 pm

You go from Super of the Year to criminal fraud by pushing the sociocultural model and those Standards for Teaching and Learning when you do not yet have the kind of alternative performance assessments now being created by SBAC and PARCC. I have been looking into the creation of the Broad Prize in 2002 and the Education Innovation Lab Broad set up at Harvard in 2008. There he said this was all about achieving equality. I think that was true in 2002 as well. Urban districts and Supers were chasing after that Broad Prize from 2002 on and recognition like Natl Super of the Year.

The more aggressively situated learning and cultural-historical activity theory and social and emotional learning were pushed instead of transmission of knowledge as part of that Equality and Excellence agenda (excellence has a different meaning in ed than the dictionary version) the more awards but it meant kids who were never being taught to really read. And even the weak CRCT was too much.

Remember after hard evidence of all this cheating broke President Obama still wanted Hall on his Education Sciences advisor board, The Council of great city schools still wanted her to be its President. What Hall was doing was enacting urban school policy. It is also the policy of the Gates Foundation which funded the Coalition of Essential Schools model as it high school reform.

I think Hall knew she was lying but thought too many wanted APS to get these accolades while pushing the model that is now being nationalized as the Common Core. I just do not see how this does not have the effect of shining a spotlight on precisely what urban school education policies and practices have been over the last 10 years.

This is about a whole lot more than Hall. But that will not help her against a criminal indictment. In fact I suspect the reality will horrify many minority potential jurors. I really do think the evidence shows to a clear and convincing level of proof that there has been a deliberate attempt to keep urban schools weak to make community organizing easier.

Which is truly heartbreaking. So many lives ruined because ignorant and aggrieved is politically powerful.

crankee-yankee

March 29th, 2013
6:13 pm

@MD – Perhaps someone in DC will see it is possible to aim high. The problem might be that her friends up there have power an order of magnitude greater than Madam Hall has here.

adam

March 29th, 2013
6:15 pm

Indict all of the administrators. They shouldve been overseeing all of this and are ultimately the ones who should be held accountable. Then give the teachers the admins’ salaries

MA

March 29th, 2013
6:15 pm

’bout dern freakin’ time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Old timer

March 29th, 2013
6:18 pm

I know Paul Howard violated th privacy rights of two children…..shame on him. I am furious. I would bet the farm this goes on everywhere is much more suttle and sophisticated methods.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 29th, 2013
6:19 pm

Wow. I honestly did not expect this to ever come to fruition. I have become very cynical about bringing those high up on the food chain to justice. Too often, those will less power become the scapegoats for everything. I hope, in this case, I am proven wrong and that all those who are guilty of misconduct face appropriate consequences.

However, I fear similar scandals as the pressure of high stakes testing continues to increase. When you start using test results to determine things other than that for which they are designed – like who gets paid large bonuses, or who receives merit pay, which systems get grant money, and who gets a poor evaluation – then you are setting up a system that invites corruption.

Jeff Bragg

March 29th, 2013
6:20 pm

Does Georgia still have a provision in the Teachers’ Retirement Plan that denies pensions to retirees convicted of various unethical and criminal acts that harmed students and systems? I have a vague memory that retirees in that situation have to pay for all the damages they caused before requalifying.
If so, how can that be triggered for anyone convicted? And, does Dr. Hall have a sweetheart extra pension or annuity like our corrupt former Supe in DeKalb? Could she lose that too?

John Friedricks

March 29th, 2013
6:21 pm

I have been in education for 20 years. Rarely has an administration been held accountable for negligence, corruption, and a long list of crimes. Yes, crimes! Education is corrupt. Administrators are bribed to secure contracts. The public is oblivious to it because there is no oversight for the education system. Finally, a corrupt administration has been indicted, but there are so many more guilty of a variety of crimes. Here is a test question: Which of the following does not belong in this group? Michael Corleone, Tony Soprano, Beverly Hall, Mr./Mrs. Classroom Teacher.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
6:23 pm

“when unreasonable expectations are handed out, what can really be expected? ”
Honesty.
Complete honesty.
Teachers should have taught to the best of their ability and should have administered the tests honestly and fairly.
If the expectations were truly unreasonable, the results of the tests would show that.
But the truth is…
Many schools did well on the tests and there was no cheating.

I-do-wonder

March 29th, 2013
6:24 pm

New Jersey should investigate her actions in that district. I-do-wonder if APS was the first rodeo for Dr. Hall. I doubt it.

howdy1942

March 29th, 2013
6:25 pm

Good for APS – not this matter can be settled and justice prevail. I fully expect that the same will happen in Dekalb County. It’s good to see that APS will not be paying for any legal defenses for criminal indictments. Dekalb County should not have paid or be paying for Crawford Lewis – so far those legal expenses have run over $100,000 that have been taken from the classroom. My gut tells me that such corruption runs deep in Dekalb – from the suspended Board down through the administration. I just hope that a future grand jury in Dekalb will bring the justice that all parties deserve.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
6:26 pm

Michael Corleone, Tony Soprano, Beverly Hall, Mr./Mrs. Classroom Teacher.
Which doesn’t belong?
Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone. They are fictional characters and guilty only of great entertainment.
The others are real criminals who need to be behind bars.

barneyfife

March 29th, 2013
6:27 pm

It’s about time! I hope that Beverly Hall, Tamara Cottman, and the others are put UNDER the jail! But on another note: The AJC should be ashamed- look at how many typos and misspellings are in the original article. A story about education, and it looks like it is written in crayon. Shame on your author, editor, and proofer.

tim

March 29th, 2013
6:27 pm

#1 Who is paying for the legal defense of those indicted?

#2 Will any real punishment be the result if guilty. or will this just be the usual hand slap and probation?

ATLien

March 29th, 2013
6:29 pm

Guess it made too much sense to have a link or visual showing the 35 people indicted. Secondly how does the deputy not get indicted but the head of HR gets indicted?

Shame on them

March 29th, 2013
6:36 pm

This is absolutely disgusting for the teachers, supt and others to have done to the innocent kids. Shame.

Is that “Millicent Few”…”Millicent Fuller Few”?

These southern kids already can’t read/write well, and now these people who should be helping them learn have damaged them in major ways. SHAME.

I hear Beverly Hall’s bond is $7.5 MILLION dollars, per a report at the NY Times!!

Wondering Allowed

March 29th, 2013
6:38 pm

WSB-TV is pointing out the Augustine was not named, despite being named all over the report as having been involved. The reporter there couldn’t offer a reason, but did not the ommission.