Dr. Beverly Hall racked up more than 125-thousand in legal bills as she defended herself against the cheating scandal that engulfed the district.
ATLANTA -- Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall took home more than a half-million dollars in "performance" pay between 1999 and 2009, according to records obtained by 11Alive News' Center for Investigative Action.
However, getting that money back could cost more than it's worth. There's been talk among Atlanta Public School Board members about trying to get the bonus money back, in light of the cheating scandal.
However, after receiving a copy of her latest contract, we discovered that may not be possible because of an indemnity clause which covers both damages and legal fees.
Employment contract attorney Matt Billips told 11Alive's Center for Investigative Action that Hall's legal costs to defend herself, against a civil action by the Board, could be in excess of $1 million, which the board would have to pay.
"If they recover the $580,000, she pays it to them and they have to pay it back to her because they're indemnifying her. They're not just indemnifying her for the cost of the defense, they're indemnifying her for any damages," Billips said.
See Clause 11 in Hall's Employment Contract.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Atlanta Public Schools CRCT Cheating Investigation
Figures released by APS show Hall earned $581,860.82 between the 1999 and 2009. Hall did not take a bonus in 2009-2010.
"The amount was tied in part to performance targets set for the district, which are tied in part to test scores," APS spokesman Keith Bromery told 11Alive News in an email.
Her most recently reported salary, including taxable benefits and everything in her superintendent's contract, was $415,293.44 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, according to Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.
In addition to bonuses, Hall received numerous awards and national attention for her hand in turning APS around.
"Under her leadership, standardized test scores have risen, aging facilities have been renovated and a new blueprint for business operations is being implemented," her official APS superintendent biography said before she retired.
In the weeks since, a state investigation has implicated Hall in a web of cheating on state standardized tests at 44 APS schools.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CRCT Cheating Investigation
"Dr. Hall either knew or should have known cheating and other misconduct was occurring in the APS system," the state report said.
"Dr. Hall stood to financially gain based on whether the district met targets," the investigation report said. "Over the years, she received tens of thousands of dollars based on the reported CRCT results."
The report completed by the Office of the Governor's Special Investigators into cheating on the Criterion Reference Competency Test alleges that teachers were often pressured into meeting "targets" of achievement.
Teachers interviewed during the investigation said targets were often set at unreasonable levels and failure to meet those targets resulted in professional humiliation and job termination. "Fear of termination and public ridicule in faculty and principals meetings drove numerous educators to cross ethical lines," the report said. "Further, because targets rose annually, teachers found it increasingly difficult to achieve them."
"Dr. Hall and her senior cabinet accepted accolades when those below them performed well, but they wanted none of the burdens of failure," the report added.
"We deny that Dr. Hall has engaged in any intentional wrongdoing whatsoever," Hall's lawyer said on her behalf. "She most definitely did not know of any widespread cheating on the CRCT in 2009 or any other year."
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In a statement following the report's release, Hall said "Cheating on the CRCT in 2009 or earlier by no means undermines the clear indication of improvement shown by the annual testing of all segments of our student population as part of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) performed and monitored independently by agents of the federal government's National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)."