Atlanta Seeks Criminal Prosecutions for Cheating Teachers

Teachers in Atlanta that were implicated in a widespread test cheating scandal may have to wait several more months before finding out whether they will lose their teaching license as a result of test tampering.

Investigators for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office have been interviewing Atlanta educators this month for possible criminal prosecutions in the CRCT cheating scandal, writes Maureen Downey at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

 As it was reported earlier at the AJC, the PSC (Professional Standards Commission) voted to revoke the teaching certificates of three administrators and to impose two-year suspensions on eight teachers. Some of the educators were from Parks Middle School, cited by state investigators as an egregious example of the test-cheating culture in Atlanta Public Schools.

The PSC took action against 11 educators implicated in the scandal last month and planned to have the approximately 190 remaining cases resolved by January.

However, now it could be months before the agency has access to the evidence it needs to move forward with sanctions. Most of the educators named in the report are on paid administrative leave, which is costing the school district $1 million a month.

“Certainly our preference would be to continue our work without interruption,” said Kelly Henson, executive secretary for the PSC. “But we do understand the DA’s position.”

Investigators have told witnesses that prosecutions are possible, regardless of whether educators still work for APS.  They are asking for detailed accounts of what happened during the 2009 CRCT, including actions of principals and assistant principals, writes Downey.

Hearings for other educators had been planned for November and December, but are now canceled at Howard’s request, said Rick Eiserman, PSC spokesman.

“Unless there is an unanticipated delay, the staff of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission will resume submitting APS CRCT cases to the Commission at our January, 2012 meeting,” he said.

It is believed that it will be concluded by Spring next year.

“While our preference would be to continue our work without interruption, this is a reasonable request, and we will support it,” Eiserman said Monday morning.