Schoolhouse to courthouse: Three DeKalb officials indicted

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports today that three former school administrators were indicted by a DeKalb County grand jury on charges they manipulated tests or attendance records to improve measures of school performance.

According to Tagami:

Just two weeks after a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators in an alleged cheating conspiracy, the DeKalb grand jury accused former DeKalb County School District employees Angela Jennings, Agnes Flanagan and Derrick Wooten of manipulating records.

Flanagan, who was principal of Cedar Grove Middle School, allegedly directed teachers to change students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. Jennings, who was principal at Rock Chapel Elementary, allegedly ordered the temporary removal of students from enrollment records, so their 2010 test results wouldn’t count against school averages. Wooten, who was an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary, is accused of ordering teachers to mark truants as having attended school in 2010 and 2011 so the school might meet federal attendance guidelines.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said the case resulted from an investigation his office conducted after the school district turned over evidence from its own cheating probe.

Here is the official response to the indictments from DeKalb Schools:

DeKalb County School District Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond promised the school district’s full cooperation following the indictment today of three former DCSD employees implicated in alleged testing irregularities.

“We will respect the rights of the accused former employees while pledging our full cooperation to the district attorneyís office in getting this matter behind us,” said Thurmond. “The district attorney will have access to all the data and information the district has at its disposal.”

Thurmond acknowledged the swift and decisive action taken by district officials in dealing with the crisis following a state erasure analysis in 2010.

DCSD worked cooperatively with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to provide training to all employees to ensure they were aware of and compliant with testing protocols. DCSD also ensured that every student who had been potentially impacted by alleged irregularities were given thorough remedial classroom assistance.

“This district moved quickly and decisively in handling the testing crisis,” said Thurmond. “We will continue to work cooperatively with  legal authorities.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

35 comments Add your comment

Bernie

April 16th, 2013
6:42 pm

Poor Michael Thurmond! Alligators all around and they are hungry! :)

Centrist

April 16th, 2013
6:43 pm

Waiting for the first liberal to (again) claim the temptation defense – that there never should have been grade, attendance, enrollment, or other evaluation criteria in the first place.

seminole

April 16th, 2013
6:48 pm

Centrist – I’m waiting for the first right-wing nutjob to accuse liberals of defending crooked school administrators.

Oh wait…

concernedmom30329

April 16th, 2013
7:04 pm

Ugh. Everyone around me is saying WTH. Robert James can’t even get Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope to trial. I think he hopes the public will forget Lewis and Pope.

mountain man

April 16th, 2013
7:42 pm

“Wooten, who was an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary, is accused of ordering teachers to mark truants as having attended school in 2010 and 2011 so the school might meet federal attendance guidelines.”

WHAT??? ATTENDANCE is a PROBLEM????? I would have never thought that.

RCB

April 16th, 2013
8:16 pm

Dekalb County–rotting from the inside out. Thank goodness these are FORMER educators.

Burroughston Broch

April 16th, 2013
8:45 pm

Question: What do you call three indicted former DeKalb County Schools administrators?
Answer: A good beginning.

irisheyes

April 16th, 2013
8:55 pm

Yep, attendance is (or was) a part of AYP. Not quite sure how it’s a school’s fault if a parent can’t get their kid up and on the bus (especially when we feed them breakfast at school). Of course, I have one who has been absent 17 days and tardy for 55 days. I’m sure that’s somehow my fault.

TheGoldenRam

April 16th, 2013
9:21 pm

I’ve long thought the absolute biggest scam running is the free/reduced lunch programs. Just Google the theme and look at the numbers for large systems like Chicago & Los Angeles. It’s also the kind of scam that serves so many different interests. The food industry and their USDA lobbyists keep the gravy train running, the school systems get all the extra money from “poverty” related programs that are all pinned to those numbers and status quo education types can continue to blame all kinds of achievement/performance issues on being “poor”. I’m all for assisting those in need, but the FRL programs have little credibility. Nor do any related claims that cite those numbers.

Melanie

April 16th, 2013
11:13 pm

Robert James is trying to compete with Paul Howard. Maybe he is going to add test cheating to Crawford Lewis” indictment or maybe he will fish around until he finds 36 DeKalb county employees to beet Atlanta;s record.Yet the murderers and robbers don’t have to worry because is going after the small stuff.

RCB

April 17th, 2013
12:07 am

ANY Distict Attorney would have a full plate in Dekalb. I, for one, don’t consider this to be small stuff.

mountain man

April 17th, 2013
6:46 am

“Not quite sure how it’s a school’s fault if a parent can’t get their kid up and on the bus (especially when we feed them breakfast at school).”

Does the school have the power to label them a truant and turn the parent(s) over to the police for prosecution? Where is the enforcement of truancy laws? Why not keep the student after school for double the amount of time that they are tardy? Teachers cannot teach an empty desk, so it is up to ADMINISTRATORS to make sure that the students are there,

Catlady

April 17th, 2013
6:58 am

Mm: who is going to monitor the truant after school? And, I think it is a requirement to provide transportation unless the student has been removed from the bus by tribunal. Are you going to pay higher taxes to fund this? Also, from what I have seen, when a case IS taken to court the judge does not slap anyone in jail. The case is “continued” or given another chance or postponed. Even when the parent takes dr. Excuses and fills them out and uses them to “explain” the absences and tardiness, nothing happens! True story!

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
7:55 am

Catlady – your post at 6:58 am demonstrates all that is wrong with the educational system today and why we cannot fix it. When I attended school in the sixties, if I misbehaved (but not enough to warant a paddling) I was kept after school. A special classroom was set up for that and you had to be quiet and read or study. I can’t remember if there was a teacher or an administrator there. There was no thought given to “providing transportation” – the parents were expected to pick you up. Yes, judges don’t want to hear cases, even simple cases like breaking and entering – they give the criminals probation only and then they don’t supervise them under probation. The criminal goes right back out and commits more crimes. Most criminals coming into court have a rap sheet as long as your arm, and the judge still doesn’t put them in jail. Same thing with truant parents (I say parents, because THEY are responsible for their kids being at school, on time). Judges don’t want to fool with them. Or the parent gives the judge a sob story about how they will lose their job because the shot up with drugs the night before and could not get up and get little Johny off to school (or they were just too darned lazy). So nothing ever gets done except for schools whining and teachers whining and principals cheating.

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
7:58 am

So, my suggestion is that we create charter schools to take the children whose parents actually GET THEM UP and send them off to school and leave the dregs of society to drop out as soon as they get sixteen (which they were going to do anyway). Just make sure that those remaining traditional public schools don’t falsify reports or give anyone a diploma who does not deserve one. Build more prisons. Lock them up and throw away the key.

catlady

April 17th, 2013
8:12 am

MM: or maybe the other way around. Put the truants and misbehaviors in a charter school, military style discipline, and let them earn their way into regular school. Or not.

Private Citizen

April 17th, 2013
8:35 am

Maybe they should take some Splost money and build a special jail for government workers in Georgia. They could spend the day doing character training seminars on each other.

Private Citizen

April 17th, 2013
8:35 am

special option sales tax

Understanding Atlanta

April 17th, 2013
9:18 am

You can’t force a student to stay after-school because they’re late or misbehave during school. Their parents, who probably made them late to begin with, will come up to the school cause a ruckus, and everyone goes home. I saw it happen when I was in DCSS. And let’s be clear – schools do not enforce truancy laws – law enforcement do.

Everything cannot be the fault of the teachers and/or administrators. There was be some accountability on the parents. Get your child to school. Period.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
10:00 am

The same way schools manipulated attendance for the Dekalb CRCT is the same way others cheated on the NAEP. They falsified attendance records.
In Dekalb, parents received shocking robo emails saying their child was disenrolled from school. The school disenrolled students who they thought could not pass the test. Then the school did not give the test to those children and at the same time, the secretary or teachers were counting them as present. After the test was over, the students were re-enrolled in school.
This IS what happened in Dekalb on the CRCT and it is likely something similar happened in APS for the NAEP.
There is more than one way to cheat on standardized tests and Dekalb and APS are showing us just how many there are.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
10:06 am

Very Well Said “Everything cannot be the fault of the teachers and/or administrators. There was be some accountability on the parents. Get your child to school. Period.”
I am a parent. Attendance is MY purview and MY responsibility. I have control over what time my child gets to school and how often he or she gets to school.
But the school has a responsibility too — and that is…
calling the social workers to visit the home when attendance is off track.
Schools show also call truant officers when they suspect an “of-age” child is skipping.
ALso, teachers have a responsibility of checking roll and immedidately reporting absences and truancies.
A late or absent child may have been abducted and we all know that high school students who skip school are very likely to commit crimes.
So yes, parents are responsible for getting them there but remember — mommy’s and daddy’s often go to work before their high school student gets on the bus — so the school must immedidatley contact parents when a child doesn’t make it to school on time or is absent.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
10:07 am

mommies and daddies not mommy’s and daddy’s
sheesh

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
10:53 am

“or maybe the other way around. Put the truants and misbehaviors in a charter school, military style discipline, and let them earn their way into regular school.”

I thought they already had separate schools – called ALTERNATIVE schools.

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
10:56 am

“parents are responsible for getting them there but remember — mommy’s and daddy’s often go to work before their high school student gets on the bus — so the school must immedidatley contact parents when a child doesn’t make it to school on time or is absent.”

I would hope that schools are doing this very basic thing, but – what about the lady who could not be contacted on her “emergency number” cell phone because she said she turned it off to save minutes. And of course she did not give her work number for emergencies. Then they get all upset because the police were called to take the child when the parents did not show up to claim them. Those “parents” deserve to be in JAIL.

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
10:58 am

“You can’t force a student to stay after-school because they’re late or misbehave during school. Their parents, who probably made them late to begin with, will come up to the school cause a ruckus, and everyone goes home. I saw it happen when I was in DCSS.”

And there you have the crux of the problem – it is not the TEACHERS, it is bad students and bad PARENTS that are driving education into the ground.

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
10:59 am

“mommy’s and daddy’s often go to work before their high school student gets on the bus”

What daddies?

A high school student should be responsible enough to get up and go to school without “mommy”.

Chamblee Dad

April 17th, 2013
1:48 pm

@Mountain Man “leave the dregs of society to drop out as soon as they get sixteen (which they were going to do anyway).” Watch out, as Private Citizen will perhaps tell you those “dregs” might end up working at the bus station & proudly so. Who are you to tell them how much or what kind of education they should have, or even suggest otherwise? Give him a minute . . .

Chamblee Dad

April 17th, 2013
1:55 pm

@Mountain man “Paddling” In Dalton as late as mid 70’s I remember we still had teachers who paddled – only a couple, in middle school. I only knew a couple of kids that got it, in front of the class, 1 or 2 good whacks. The story went that the holes drilled in them made it hurt worse. Those teachers kept those paddles in the front of the room, hanging on the wall behind them, near the door where all would pass. They were painted with their names, I wish I could remember one, they maintained a quiet classroom. Just turning to look up at the wall, maybe gesture near them while reaching for chalk. Any “violators” held their breath.

concerned citizen

April 17th, 2013
3:15 pm

to Pride and Joy: That’s a trick I could have never thought up! If you can prove this, we can surely act on the information! Names, places, etc. Thanks!!

Mountain Man

April 17th, 2013
3:58 pm

“Those teachers kept those paddles in the front of the room, hanging on the wall behind them, near the door where all would pass. They were painted with their names, I wish I could remember one, they maintained a quiet classroom.”

Coach Chapman? I was only paddled three times in middle school. It was effective.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
9:22 pm

MM said “A high school student should be responsible enough to get up and go to school without “mommy”.”
We live in the city, MM, where the hardened crime is. As an adult woman, I am not safe alone much less an immature high school student.
When you leave a fourteen year old girl alone to catch the bus, the sex offenders are waiting to kidnap her.
You may feel safe up there in the mountains but remember many of us live in fear and rightly so.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
9:23 pm

CC, what do you mean by “That’s a trick I could have never thought up! If you can prove this, we can surely act on the information! Names, places, etc.”
I’m sorry. I don’t know to what you are referring.

Pride and Joy

April 17th, 2013
9:26 pm

CC, are you talking about disenrolling students before the test?
It’s not a theory. It was on Channel 2 News as fact. Here’s the story…
http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-educators-indicted-cheating-investigation/nXNbC/

concerned citizen

April 18th, 2013
3:48 pm

Dear Pride and Joy – sorry, I didn’t read the AJC closely enough this AM and had not heard anyone say anything about cheating by sending parents e-mails, disenrolling students, counting them present, and then reenrolling them. This was real news to me. What in the world did the school say on e-mails? thanks

Another comment

April 19th, 2013
1:17 pm

Here is the opposite case. My very bright child, has contacted Mono. She has an excuse for 6 weeks out of school. She sleeps approx. 20 hours per day due to her illness. It has taken 4 weeks for Fulton County to start the Hospital/Homebound tutor she was entitled to after missing 10 consecutive days. Yet on the 15th day, they told me they would not give her the Hospital/Homebound tutor unless I would bring her in at least for a 2.5 hour session of the CRCT. I question why? She had a legal excuse. Why can’t she just take the IOWA test, you know she will score above the 90% tile on that.

No they wanted her to come in at 12:30 and take a private make-up administration of at least 3 sections of the 7th grade CRCT. She had to take Reading, Lit and Math. She ended up taking everything but Social Studies. But it really wiped her out Physically. She would come home and crash and sleep for 20 hours after each test. They finally started her tutor on last Tuesday to start with her make-up work. They obviously know that she will perform in the “exceeded” and bring up their scores. She only took 45 minutes to do the science yesterday. She said the proctor said to her repeatedly are you sure you are done she said yes. I have the highest grade in the class. I got the highest grade on all of the teacher’s administration of the last test.