8:16am

Tue April 2, 2013
The Two-Way

Atlanta Educators Accused In Cheating Scandal Start Turning Themselves In

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:59 pm

Ongoing coverage as 35 educators from Atlanta's school system turn themselves in to face charges related to that city's cheating scandal:

Updated at 7:53 p.m. ET Atlantic Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall Surrenders.

Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall arrived at the Fulton County jail just after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that Hall's attorney, former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan, said her legal planned to have her out of jail before the end of the night.

Hall's bond was initially recommended to be set at $7.5 million, but was later reduced to $200,000 Morgan said.

Hall and 34 other educators have been indicted on charges including racketeering, making false statements, theft and more.

Update at 4:55 p.m. ET Nine Educators Have Now Reported To Jail.

Angela Williamson, a former teacher at Dobbs Elementary, and Starlette Mitchell, a former teacher at Parks Middle School, have reportedly turned themselves in to authorities. Both are accused of changing student test scores and taking bonus money based on the faked results.

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET Sixth And Seventh Educators Turn Themselves In.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is now reporting that teachers Lisa Terry and Ingrid Abella-Sly of Humphries Elementary have reported to jail Tuesday afternoon.

They're accused of altering standardized test scores in 2009, the Journal-Constitution writes, and then accepting bonus money based on the falsified test results. Terry's bond is $300,000, and Abella-Sly's bond is $400,000.

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Fifth Educator Reports To Authorities.

"Sandra Ward was the fifth person to turn herself in. She was a Success-For-All facilitator at Parks Middle School. She is charged with RICO violations and three counts of false statements and writings," WSBTV reports.

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET: Fourth Educator Reports To Authorities.

Atlanta's Journal-Constitution now writes that:

"About 10:30 a.m., former Parks Middle School assistant principal Gregory Reid turned himself in. Reid is charged with racketeering, false statements and writings, theft by taking and false swearing."

Our original post, from 8:10 a.m. ET, picks up the story:

"The first three of the 35 educators indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal turned themselves in to authorities early Tuesday," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.

They are:

-- "Tameka Goodson, a school improvement specialist at Kennedy Middle School ... [who is accused] of working with her school's principal and secretary to change students' wrong answers to right answers on standardized tests."

-- "Donald Bullock, a testing coordinator at Usher-Collier Heights Elementary ... accused of asking two teachers to participate in falsifying standardized test answer sheets."

-- "Benteen Elementary testing coordinator Theresia Copeland ... [who is accused] of racketeering, theft by taking and two counts of false statements or writings."

All of those who were indicted are supposed to surrender Tuesday.

As Eyder has reported:

Back in July of 2011, we told you that a report released by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal detailed a "school system fraught with unethical behavior that included teachers and principals changing wrong answers on students' answer sheets and an environment where cheating for better test scores was encouraged and whistle blowers were punished."

On Friday, a grand jury indicted the 35 educators — including former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall.

Our colleagues at Atlanta's WABE have collected their reporting on the scandal here. Their posts include a 2010 interview with Hall, who has denied she participated in or even knew about the scandal.

The Journal-Constitution's coverage is collected here. It summed up the significance of the scandal this way:

"A tainted and largely unpoliced universe of untrustworthy test results underlies bold changes in education policy, the findings show. The tougher teacher evaluations many states are rolling out, for instance, place more weight than ever on tests.

"Perhaps more important, the analysis suggests a broad betrayal of schoolchildren across the nation. As Atlanta learned after cheating was uncovered in half its elementary and middle schools last year, falsified test results deny struggling students access to extra help to which they are entitled, and erode confidence in a vital public institution."

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