Governor to Appoint Special Investigator in CRCT Cheating Scandal

12:13 AM, Aug 19, 2010   |    comments
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The Blue Ribbon Commission released a report on the Atlanta Public Schools' CRCT cheating scandal in August.

ATLANTA -- An outraged Gov. Sonny Perdue called the Atlanta Public schools investigation into cheating allegations "incomplete" and "unacceptable". In the days ahead, Gov. Perdue will name a special investigator to look into accusations of CRCT test cheating by schools in Atlanta and Dougherty County.

Kathleen Mathers, head of the governor's Office of Student Achievement, updated the State Board of Education on Atlanta's Blue Ribbon Commission investigation Wednesday.

She said the commission only conducted interviews at about half of the Atlanta schools, 32 out of 58, with questionable CRCT results. In the 12 most severe cases, Mathers said staff and faculty at six of the schools refused to talk at all and Dougherty County refused to admit any problems. Mathers added Atlanta's Blue Ribbon Commission didn't even use proper interview methods.

"There are references to school staff members that were interviewed. We don't know who these people were. We don't even know their positions within the school," Mathers said.

In a rare appearance before the State Board of Education, Gov. Perdue called the investigation "woefully inadequate" and said, "they fall far short of the target."

"This is a sad day," Perdue said. "What has happened here has stunted the education growth of thousands of children by adults who cheated."

The governor says the special investigator will have full legal authority with subpoena power to force people to testify under oath and under the threat of perjury.

Perdue added that he wants anyone found to have committed perjury or in any way broken the law turned over to a grand jury and local prosecutors.

State Senator Vincent Fort (D-39th), who has been critical of the investigation, is calling for Atlanta Public Schools to release its CRCT records.

"The CRCT testing scandal has brought negativity to the students, teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public School System," Fort said in a statement. "I am demanding that Dr. Beverly Hall release all information regarding the investigation, and the role the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce played in the procedures. This important information must be transparent and open to the public."

State Representative Ralph Long (D-61st) is calling for the superintendent to step down. He posted a video on YouTube that depicts Hall as a cheater.

On Tuesday, Hall made it clear that she wasn't going anywhere.

"It's my responsibility to fix [the problem], to find out what went on and make it right," Hall said Tuesday. "It is not my responsibility to run away from it."

APS Board Chair LaChandra Butler Burks says the school district welcomes the special investigator's appointment.

"We will make certain that our district cooperates fully with this investigation," she said in a statement. "The board will also ensure that the district continues to provide additional academic support for all children who did not meet expectations on the 2010 CRCTs."

"All students who did not meet standards on the 2010 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and are enrolled in the 58 APS schools flagged for investigation are eligible for the district's 12-week accelerated academic recovery program," APS spokesman Keith Bromery said in a statement.

The State Board of Education supported Perdue's move without taking further action.

"The State Board of Education and the Department of Education have demonstrated a commitment to these investigations since the first actions were taken in June 2009 and will continue this work," State Board of Education Chair Wanda Barrs and State School Superintendent Brad Bryant said in a joint statement. "We fully accept the Governor's charge to take every means possible to ensure that any actions by adults do not negatively impact the education of Georgia's students."

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