Atlanta cheating scandal: Accused teacher prevails in tribunal

Accused Atlanta public schoolteacher Angela Williamson has won her case before a tribunal and now waits to see whether the school board will reinstate her. The former Dobbs Elementary School teacher had been accused by state investigators of coaxing her students to change their answers. She said her actions were in line with school system policy and were meant merely to keep the kids on task and focused.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more on the case.


Atlanta schools get some support

If anyone needs a morale boost going into the school year, it’s these folks. Still, I hope the PTAs involve will push for reform rather than simply support the status quo, which is all too often the case with parent-teacher groups.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The message was clear from signs, T-shirts and posters all around Centennial Olympic Park: It’s been a tough summer for Atlanta Public Schools, but as the school year approaches there’s a need for parents, educators and community members to “Support the Good.”

With that in mind, about 300 people attended a Thursday night rally hosted by the Atlanta Council of PTAs. Participants listened to teachers, parents, city leaders and school board members who tried to shed some positive light on a district that’s attracted mostly negative attention in recent months.


Speakers highlighted the long-term positive gains in test scores, even in recent years as state monitors have stepped in to ensure tests were not compromised. Twenty-one Atlanta Public Schools students have been awarded 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarships — one of the highest numbers of any school district in the nation.

(Note: Gates scholarships, funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda are designed to meet 100 percent of financial need and are awarded to minority students on the basis of academic excellence and financial need.)

To read the rest of the story, click here.


Atlanta cheating scandal: Branded! OK, sanctioned.

The Atlanta School Board has been sanctioned by the Georgia Attorney General’s office for violations of the Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act  for actions surrounding the CRCT cheating scandal. This one year probation, effective immediately, means that board members and key staffers must receive additional training and be ever so careful, lest they wind up in court.

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Among the most serious of the public records violations, investigators said Hall — who left the system June 30 — and former Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine illegally suppressed a report by a testing expert last year that largely confirmed an AJC analysis that suggested test cheating occurred. The district withheld that report  from the media and public.

Among the most serious of the open meetings violations happened in April,when Gov. Nathan Deal summoned the board, Hall and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to the Capitol for a private meeting. It came on the heels of Deal signing legislation giving him the power to remove board members if they did not make sufficient progress by midsummer toward regaining full accreditation.

The meeting was held despite objections from the AJC that the Georgia Open Meetings Act requires such meetings to be open to the public, because a quorum of the board was present. Senate Democratic whip Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, also filed a formal complaint with the attorney general.

Sounds like Governor Deal nees additional training in adhering to the Open Meetings Act, too. Read the full story.

Atlanta cheating scandal: Hey, where’d they go?

Some shoes drop. Others scurry away. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Thirteen Atlanta Public Schools principals implicated in the state cheating investigation have resigned or retired from the district.

Ten left before the state’s report was issued July 5, according to data released Friday by the district. All told, 41 of the 179 educators suspected of cheating have vacated their positions.

Last week, Superintendent Erroll Davis sent a blunt message to educators implicated in the report — quit or face termination. The firing process could be costly for the district because educators have due process rights. According to state law, when a district moves to suspend or fire a

teacher, principal or other employee, the employee is entitled to a hearing.

Three principals left after the scathing report was released. Of all the educators who have left, 28 departed before the report was released, 13 after. The specific reasons they left were not disclosed by the district.

To read the rest of the story, click here.