The AJC is expecting indictments possibly later today related to the APS cheating scandal first brought to light by the newspaper. When those indictments come down, please be sure to come back to the blog as there will be a lot to discuss about who was indicted and who was not.
The AJC is already reporting that the grand jury looking at the APS cheating scandal has been focusing in part on D.H. Stanton Elementary School where it appears that data skewing was common.
According to the AJC: (Please read the entire story before commenting. This is an excerpt.)
An internal inquiry confirmed a”culture of wrongdoings” at D.H. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta: Attendance records were falsified. Disciplinary files were doctored. Friends of the principal got paid for tutoring they never performed. And the principal covered up reports that staff members had physically abused students.
Special investigators appointed to dig into widespread cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta Public Schools never saw that report. Nearly two years later, the report and the school district’s failure to give it to investigators will be the subject of some of the final testimony to a Fulton County grand jury. As early as today, it is expected to return indictments against numerous school officials.
The grand jury has called Mike Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general and one of the special investigators appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010, to testify about the Stanton inquiry. “I have never seen it before,” Bowers said of the report on Thursday. “I think they hid it from us.”
After recently reviewing the document, Bowers offered a succinct review: “It’s ugly.”
The grand jury’s interest in the Stanton case suggests that prosecutors have expanded their investigation beyond the original scope of improprieties involving the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT. Like test scores, data on attendance, discipline and other matters play heavily into whether schools meet federal standards.
If district officials intentionally withheld the Stanton report from state investigators, their actions could bolster prosecutors’ contention that organized fraud in the school system amounted to racketeering. Lawyers representing former school officials have said they expect the grand jury to indict about two dozen people.
The district began examining Stanton in the summer of 2010, about the same time Perdue appointed the special investigators. Perdue ordered the inquiry after stories in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution questioned the validity of the increases in Atlanta’s test scores.
The state’s analysis of erasures on the 2009 CRCT found excessive wrong-to-right changes in 58.3 percent of Stanton’s classrooms. The state investigators said Stanton’s principal created “an atmosphere ripe for cheating by applying pressure on teachers to improve test scores.” The investigators also determined that the school’s testing coordinator “orchestrated a scheme” to correct student answers.
The school district’s investigator, Stan Williams, encountered “a steady stream of D.H. Stanton’s employees (who) came forward with allegations of wrongdoing,” he wrote in his final report. Williams found evidence, he wrote, that the former principal, Willie Davenport, engaged in fraud, mismanagement and “cheating and deceit.” The Journal-Constitution obtained the report from the school district in 2011.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog