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Atlanta schools cheating case headed to grand jury

7:06 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Prosecutors in Fulton County appear to be preparing criminal cases in the wake of a cheating scandal that rocked the Atlanta Public School system nearly four years ago. 

Sources involved in the case say a grand jury is expected to hear the case next week.  The goal would be to prepare criminal indictments against administrators and teachers who spearheaded the scandal.

The Professional Standards Commission says the scandal touched 185 teachers and administrators.  Two staffers had their teaching certificates revoked.  Twenty-five more had two year suspensions. More than a hundred requested administrative hearings.

Twenty-six files are still with the district attorney's office.  It's unclear who prosecutors would target.  The scandal forced Superintendent Beverly Hall to retire.  Although she apologized for the scandal, Hall always denied that she had directed administrators or teachers to change test scores.  

Hall's attorney, Rick Deane, said he was unaware of any upcoming grand jury activity.  He declined further comment. A spokeswoman for District Attorney Paul Howard declined comment.

The scandal centers on the CRCT, a standardized test used to measure student performance.  After test scores jumped at Atlanta public schools, investigators learned that teachers had corrected the answers of students. Investigators say they altered the test answers because they wanted to pump up their schools' test score rankings to keep their jobs secure.

Sources close to the investigation say the statute of limitations may be forcing the DA to seek an indictment now.  The charges could include fraud, altering government documents, and racketeering.

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey, who represents some of the teachers investigated, tells 11Alive News via email "for the 'accused' teachers who have been in legal limbo for years now, their professional characters assassinated by rumor and innuendo, it is high time to let them move forward with their lives, or have their day in Court."

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