Indictments may come today in APS cheating scandal. Grand jury looking at suppressed report on “culture of wrongdoing” at one school

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

75 comments Add your comment

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
10:02 am

Everyone needs to read this report.
It is ugly is an understatement. It literllay sickened me.
Teachers hitting the kids in the head and the report is hidden.
The principal paid his friends and family to tutor kids and they took the money and didn’t tutor the kids.
Changing attendance records, hiding abuse and violence.
DH Stanton Elementary was slated for closure and the “community” and other “activists” insisted it stay open.
So this abusive, lying, thieving school stays open today to abuse kids, steal money and lie and cheat.
WHY would anyone defend the criminals at DH Stanton?
This school needs to be burned to the ground, all the adult liars and thieves and criminals in it need to go to jail on racketeering charges and the kids need to be moved to a safe, nurturing REAL school that values human beings.

Maude

March 29th, 2013
10:10 am

Let us pray that everyone involved will be punished to the fullest extent of the law and pray for the poor children who were robbed of the education they deserved!

Digger

March 29th, 2013
10:11 am

Tip of the iceberg. Note to ladies: Prison stripes add at least 15 pounds to your look.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
10:13 am

This quote disgusts me “a CULTURE of wrong-doing…”
Wrong-doing?
When my children do not pick up their toys, they are wrong-doing.
When the adults at DH Stanton hit kids in the head, a culture wrong-doing does not begin to describe it.
A gang of thugs is a better description.

Shar

March 29th, 2013
10:14 am

The witholding of this document may prove to be the element that ties Drs. Hall and Augustine to this appalling fraud and assault on Atlanta’s children, and could be precisely the evidence the prosecutors need in order to make those RICO charges stick.

I only hope that the Stanton principal’s decision to retire rather than face CRCT-related charges leaves open the possibility for prosecution on this evidence, and that all of her friends, family and underlings can be summarily booted out without benefit of pensions or insurance. Perhaps teachers and others on this blog will have sympathy for people forced to work for a monster, but when you willingly perform monstrous acts (like covering up child abuse) in order to save yourself, you lose all claim to sympathy as far as I am concerned. There are other choices, and one call to the FBI could have saved hundreds of children.

Simmer Down

March 29th, 2013
10:26 am

I predict there are more schools where things like this happened. Maybe not to this extent but to some level. They will go after DH Stanton hard and hope this satisfies everyone. The ultimate goal is to get the APS system off of the front page so they can get back to the business at hand. Finding new ways to rob your children of their education for personal gain.

Simmer Down

March 29th, 2013
10:29 am

On a second note – thank you Ga. Leg. for expanding the tax break for private education yesterday!! Next stop vouchers so that no child has to deal with what happened at DH Stanton again.

crankee-yankee

March 29th, 2013
10:42 am

Let me make this crystal clear.
The guilty parties at APS are NOT educators.
Do not confuse them with those who have devoted their lives to educating our future.
I dearly hope they get their due, I agree with SHAR, the Stanton report may very well be the icing for the RICO cake. I hope they fry.

Centrist

March 29th, 2013
10:44 am

We have to thank the AJC for initially uncovering this. Then we have to question why it has been 4 years to get to this point and uncovering a hidden report about it. Was this going to be whitewashed/ swept under a rug if not publicly exposed?

No doubt there have been and will be more who ultimately get away with their racketeering as prosecutors are overwhelmed and only pursue the easier cases to prove. Hopefully those who get away won’t be emboldened to cheat the system again in the future.

BT

March 29th, 2013
10:53 am

I was against the indictments but with this “culture of wrongdoing” exposed, they deserve what they get. Cheating on the CRCT is one thing, intentional falsifying records and money, abusing students is criminal!!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
10:57 am

Shar, very well said.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
11:00 am

“I hope they fry.”
My sentiments exactly.

Truth_B_Told

March 29th, 2013
11:01 am

I can remember a while back when there was an incident at a Gwinette County elementary school in which a teacher used references of slavery to teach a math lesson. The Black community was outraged! How can teachers do this to “our” children they cried. Community activist, church pastors, etc. were out front leading the protest marches. I wonder how much of that outrage will we see with this particular incident. My guess is not much since all parties involved are Black; unlike in Gwinette County where it was framed as being White on Black.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
11:02 am

“We have to thank the AJC for initially uncovering this.”
Absolutely, yes.
THANK YOU, AJC!

Rick L in ATL

March 29th, 2013
11:27 am

As they say, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. I don’t blame Bev Hall for failing to understand that putting intense pressure on teachers to improve test scores would result in massive cheating. That’s stupid, but not criminal.

But everything she did afterwards–from using a personal gmail account to avoid the Open Records Act to destroying evidence –that IS criminal.

Prior to getting caught she was just another overpaid, glib con-artist of the type that’s a dime-a-dozen in urban school systems. It’s what she did when the facade started to crumble that turned her into a criminal. And the worst kind of criminal, a child predator.

How ya feelin’ about your gal now, Shirley Franklin?

irisheyes

March 29th, 2013
11:32 am

@Pride and Joy, I know this doesn’t fit your preconceived notions of “evil and criminal” teachers, but the report states that there were teachers who were trying to do something. In the article, one teacher started documenting incidents, probably because she had verbally contacted the principal with nothing happening. So she started keeping written documentation, so when the higher ups came, she had proof. Of course, in APS, none of the higher ups cared either. Please don’t paint every teacher with your brush (though I know you will).

The DEEP Pockets of Taxpayers

March 29th, 2013
11:35 am

Hall will walk…thanks to citizens paying for her high price legal team. The APS board should halt all payments for criminal defense. Maybe the govenor should appoint a board that will wisely spend our money.

Prediction: Hall will WALK, maybe disgraced, but with riches.

Educator

March 29th, 2013
11:35 am

After this, indictments should come for Fulton County School System for the covered abuse cases of special need students. That was one of the biggest cover-up of Georgia’s education history.

Catlady

March 29th, 2013
11:43 am

For those of you talking about frying the perpetrators, Big Bev would make quite a sizzle!

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
11:45 am

Truth B Told — very well said.

2020

March 29th, 2013
11:46 am

APS has not properly served special education students for years and nothing has been done about it.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
11:48 am

Deep Pockets made an interesting prediction that Hall will walk, meaning, she will get away with her crimes.
She does have access to our tax money for her defense and can hire the best defense but there is also overwhelming evidence against her.
Just very curious…
WHY are you so convinced she will “walk”?
What evidence, other than a high-priced defense doyou have that she will go free?
Are you really hoping she will go free ?

RCB

March 29th, 2013
11:48 am

I hope that once the indictments come down, the Board will vote to stop funding defense attorneys for anyone accused of criminal actions. Just as they should do in Dekalb with Crawford Lewis. I don’t think they have the guts to do it though. Taxpayers are very tired of paying legal fees for criminals. These type cases run into the tens of millions.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
11:49 am

Catlday, quite a sizzle indeed.
I would love to make some potato salad, honey baked beans and corn on the cob so that I could attend that big fat barbeque.
Yum…delicious…I can taste it already.

FUBU

March 29th, 2013
12:30 pm

Thanks affirmative action!

crankee-yankee

March 29th, 2013
12:36 pm

Catlady – I’m not sure there is a pan big enough. Open pit maybe, but then we’re talking BBQ.

RCB – I too have an issue with public ed money being used for criminal defense.
Was Hall not a member of PAGE or NEA?
Why are they not defending her? That’s part of the package.
She wasn’t a member? Her decision, her problem.

crankee-yankee

March 29th, 2013
12:43 pm

Correction, as management, she wouldn’t be able to join NEA.
But PAGE is for all levels.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
12:59 pm

Even the attorneys FOR the accused are predicting about 24 indictments today.
And when they are found guilty they will definitely be seeking a plea bargain to get a lighter sentence and THAT is when they will sing like canaries to get Beverly Hall.
It’s a bittersweet victory.
Kids suffered and we tax payers will never recover the money but…
I’ll take this moral victory in hopes it will squash more future corruption.

Centrist

March 29th, 2013
1:16 pm

I wonder why this announcement has purposely been scheduled late in the day starting a holiday weekend. That is a common tactic that is used for bad news to be disseminated so that it might get upstaged by something else, or become “old news” by the time it is digested after the weekend.

Maureen Downey

March 29th, 2013
1:20 pm

@Centrist, The grand jury was still hearing witnesses this morning, including former AG Mike Bowers who was Perdue’s appointee to co-lead the CRCT cheating probe.
Maureen

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/former-attorney-general-arrives-for-grand-jury-tes/nW7L2/

Google "NEA" and "donations"

March 29th, 2013
1:23 pm

@cranky-yankee:

As management she WOULD be able to join GAE/NEA and help fund the Democrat Party.

Centrist

March 29th, 2013
1:25 pm

Thanks for the explanation. Makes sense, now.

frankie

March 29th, 2013
1:27 pm

Wow the hate. I hope all of you saints….well
You know the rest.

crankee-yankee

March 29th, 2013
1:40 pm

I stand corrected, she can join NEA.
So my original question stands…

HENRY A. TURNER, ATTORNEY AT LAW

March 29th, 2013
1:43 pm

Time for Perp Walks!

frankie

March 29th, 2013
1:46 pm

I am all for justice. And hope the really guilty folks get what they deserve. But I imagine not many will be indicted. Since they were not under arrest when they admitted to cheating the first time around. Probably won’t loose pension

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
2:19 pm

What do any of you expect to have been uncovered after years of Financial
neglect and poor oversight of a school system that has been wrought with
corruption,financial mismangement and child abuse for many years!

In No way, is this the first time…..there have been far too many others in the Past where such occurences have been covered up, evidence destroyed and never to be found or discussed ever again.

This current situation is one of many yet to be uncovered or even remotely discussed of many years of corruption, child abuse and child molestion by teachers and principals of the Atlanta Public school System. As a student at Booker Washington High in Atlanta 1973 and before, it was widely known and openly discussed in the African American community in Atlanta. That certain well known long term Teachers and Principals were having ongoing affairs with many students. Even some have married their former high school students years after graduation. Imagine that!

Severe beatings of the unruly children. Most of these were metted out by the schools Varsity Football coaches and staff members.

There were times when X rated photos of students, were being passed around by the students taken by a Teacher at the school. Not just one time but multiple times. No action was ever taken against that Teacher or any Teacher and such acts have been condoned for YEARS! All with the blessings of School Administrators and the Higher Ups within the Atlanta Public School System.

The photos were always confiscated and destroyed. Even then students were warned by Teachers and Principals to remain quiet and ordered not to discuss these matters with outsiders. Nothing was ever said about it again.

This was a common pattern of Behavior, that was going on on every High School across Atlanta! and every one knew it! it was no secret!

Just as it was not an uncommon practice for PTA and Boster Club money to disappear! Gone…just like that! Not one word of theft would ever mentioned or considered.

If any of you were to gain the confidence and trust of any retired Atlanta Public School Teacher. Ohhhh, the stories they would tell you. would make your Hair stand on your HEAD! Leaving you in total disbelief and horror!

The Difference this time, its been exposed to Law enforcement and action has been taken! Thankfully!

10:10 am

March 29th, 2013
2:35 pm

Harrowing revelations you’ve shared with us, @Bernie.

Assuming they’re true, and the local community and local leaders did absolutely nothing about them … who do you hold responsible for that?

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
3:02 pm

10:10 am @ 2:35 pm – In my mind and many others who will read this know they my words are truthful in their description of events. There are still some of the same offenders who are still around walking the streets of Atlanta. Who enjoy their Teachers and principal retirements and recieve many accolades of being a great contributor to the Atlanta Public System.

Now who is responsible? That is very complicated and requires a lot of explaining. but to put in a NUTSHELL, when you have one segment of a population who treats another group with disdain,hatred, prejudice, inequality, equal opportunity and unfairness at every turn. This starts as the
initial breeding ground for such acts to occurr. That behavior prohibts the offended group to expose and reveal the miscreants that are within their midst.

This fear is born out of fear of rejection and even more retaliation and embarrassment and further reduction of funds and support from the dominating group. A kind of we take care of our own, mindset! We have enough problems as it is and we do not need this! If we bring this out into the light will we recieve the USED books from 2 years ago, from the White schools across town? Forget New books!….The African American schools were never provided with New Books only after they have been used by others. They were never VALUABLE enough to recieve New BOOKS for many years. Many times collections and donations from the community were solicited to offset the low numbers of books that were common in many of their schools.

In other words …We ALL are responsible!

AlreadySheared

March 29th, 2013
3:04 pm

Such allegations about a private school would destroy it – that school would cease to exist.

This story is an indirect argument for universal education vouchers for all students.

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
3:13 pm

AlreadySheared @ 3:04 pm – oh how little do you know! Many of those former graduates would read your comment and Laugh out LOUD! such incidents are occurences are far worse… right NOW! in some of Atlanta’s most exclusive and priviate middle and high schools of ATlanta.

They are just a bit better in hiding their Sins. Their kids have more money to spend on such things. Why is that one school without calling in any names are implenting a Drug Use policy with active routine and random drug screening of the students. No exceptions! is it because they are Little
ANGELS?

Vouchers are nothing but a shrouded return to school segregation along Racial lines. You Know it, I know it and so does everyone else!

You can dress that PIG any way you want to…its STILL A PIG! and that PIG will fail!

reality check

March 29th, 2013
3:15 pm

If everybody is responsible nobody can be held accountable.

The legal system is the place for this.

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
3:17 pm

“Vouchers are nothing but a shrouded return to school segregation along Racial lines.”
Rolling on the floor laughing my butt off…
Vouchers are open for EVERYONE to use.
Every child can use a voucher.
Your race card playing is very boring.

CJae of EAV

March 29th, 2013
3:23 pm

If you believe that Dr. Hall wasn’t aware of the culture breeding across the district you’re sadly mistaken. She was a very aware executive manager during tenure in part due to authority she merited out to her closest senior staffers. Her senior staffers kept her well informed and they did nothing that didn’t have her direct blessing. The operational synergy between them was well known fact.

In my view, the glue that could tie together Drs. Hall and Augustine as well the other senior staffers that reported directly to them that have been implicated is one person not often spoken of in this situation, Dr. Hall’s Chief of Staff Sharon Pitts. Dr. Hall effectively leveraged Ms. Pitts as a buffer resource to offer plausible deniability. I agree with @Shar that the report in question may well prove to be the element that finally tumbles the entire house of cards.

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
3:27 pm

reality check @ 3:15 pm – that is how it works NOW! but in years past as early as the 1970’s that was not the case. A different kind of mindset and culture allowed for such acts to occur by EVERYONE!

Such simplistic thinking…clouds ones judgement ,which leads to denial of reality. The Legal system in America has never been Fair or EQUAL!

The historical records proves that fact.

OriginalProf

March 29th, 2013
3:30 pm

@ RCB, 11:48 am.

You wondered whether the taxpayers would be paying any of the legal defense bills. In today’s story: “Those indicted won’t have their legal expenses paid by Atlanta Public Schools, said school board Chairman Reuben McDaniel. The board changed the school district’s policy last month so that it won’t be responsible for representing employees when criminal actions are brought against them for job-related actions.”

Pride and Joy

March 29th, 2013
3:33 pm

***MORE GOOD NEWS***
In the newest update on the indictments it was revealed that NO tax payer money will be used to defend the newest ones indicted. There was a change about a month ago that prohibited tax money from being spent to defend criminals.
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/former-attorney-general-arrives-for-grand-jury-tes/nW7L2/

CJae of EAV

March 29th, 2013
3:48 pm

@Bernie 03/29 14:19pm – Since you’ve opened Pandora’s box with your comments, let just rip the lid off completely. The behaviors you describe relative to adults engaging in carnal activities with kids was a but a symptom of greater sickness brewing within the city during the mid-late 70’s into the early 80’s. This seedy underbelly of the city was widespread and there is a body of evidence that suggests THE major criminal event in the city during that era was rooted in this activity as well to some degree. What you describe is secret that was in plain sight at that time, which many chose to sweep under the rug and refuse to bring to light in the moment or in retrospect.

If the events of the past would have taken place in an era scrutiny remotely close to what we have today, the history of this city would tell a different tale. I predict there are many stories yet to be told relative to the operation of APS central office during Dr Hall’s tenure that reveal a lot more.

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
3:50 pm

Pride and Joy @ 3:17 pm – Surrrrrrrre Everything will be just dandy and ALL equal and stuff! I am tickled pink about that!…

The local school administrator to an Atlanta innner city parent – ” I am so sorry, But we are full here! we are unable take your child even you have the voucher! we have no more SLOTS available! Why there are not any more Black kids here?…… the others were here, FIRST!

Maybe you will find another school, that will be able to help you. I have list here for you in YOUR AREA!”

And the cycle of segregation repeats its self….no longer the color of skin per se..the game now becomes no more space available for your KIND!

Same racist Hate, only dressed a little bit better with same results…Seperation!

Bernie

March 29th, 2013
3:52 pm

CJae of EAV @ 3:48 pm – I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. That fact is likely to happen and it would be a very good thing for the city,parents and especially for the Children!