Four charged in APS cheating scandal plead not guilty

10:37 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Four defendants facing criminal charges in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal have pleaded not guilty, while lawyers for former Superintendent Beverly Hall have filed motions to have the charges against her dismissed.

MORE | Beverly Hall, 34 others indicted in APS cheating scandal

Tamara Cotman, Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts, and Tabeeka Jordan all entered not guilty pleas and waved formal arraignment during a hearing Thursday morning. All of them are charged with being part of a conspiracy to cheat on the CRCT exam.

Others facing criminal charges planned to enter not guilty pleas, but will have to wait due to concerns over their legal representation.

35 former APS educators are facing criminal charges.

PHOTOS | Indicted educators report to jail

Hall, who prosecutors say knew or should have known about the cheating, is scheduled for a court hearing on Friday. Her lawyers are challenging the allegations in a grand jury indictment, calling them "vague and ambiguous." Her attorneys are also challenging the grand jury that handed down the indictment, claiming it came from a flawed jury pool.

Also on Thursday, prosecutors told Judge Jerry Baxter that their investigation is continuing, and other educators could be charged. Judge Baxter called the pronouncement "troubling."

"It's going to pretty upsetting to me if halfway through this thing, others are thrown in the mix," said Baxter.

Attorney Bob Rubin, who until today represented two of the educators facing charges, said he doubted others would be indicted.

"If they haven't figured it out by now, I don't know what's going to change in the next couple of months that would give them more evidence," said Rubin. "They've had this case for years."

The Fulton County District Attorney's office says information continues to come into a tip line, and while nothing is imminent, others could be charged.

Judge Baxter ruled on Thursday that each defendant would have to have their own attorney. He's concerned that potential conflicts would arise.

Rubin was told he could no longer represent both Dana Evans and Willie Davenport. One of them will have to find another attorney before their arraignment date of May 18.

Ten other defendants are in the same situation.

Atlanta Public Schools parent Andria Lang has scheduled a rally of support on Friday morning. She's part of a group called "Citizens in Support of Dr. Beverly Hall." 

The group actually started a petition they hope people will sign during the rally. The petition notes Hall's accomplishments while superintendent.

Some of the accomplishments included:

  • A $1 billion investment into construction 17 new state-of-the-art schools and more than 60 other renovated properties. 
  • Almost $129 million dollars in scholarships awarded to APS graduates, which was up from $9 million in 200. 
  • And the third largest district in that nation what grooms Gates Millennium Scholars. And the second district with the most African-American scholars. 

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