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Prosecutor's wife creates conflict in APS case, motion charges

11:17 PM, Jun 10, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Educators indicted in APS cheating scandal
Judge Jerry Baxter presides over a hearing in the APS case.


Read the Motion:

 PDF Document: aps motion 001

ATLANTA -- A motion filed in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case is calling for a judge to disqualify Fulton County prosecutors because District Attorney Paul Howard's wife worked at an APS school where cheating took place.

MORE | Continuing coverage of APS cheating scandal

The motion, filed by defendant Pamela Cleveland, says that Petrina Howard was a counselor at M. Agnes Jones Elementary school when the 2009 CRCT was administered. The motion cites a report gathered by specially-appointed prosecutors, which says Mrs. Howard assisted the school's testing coordinator by handing out and collecting tests.

"If Ms. Howard did indeed handle dissemination and collection of first and second grade tests, she may possess information that is directly relevant to alleged cheating," says the motion, written by attorney Angela Johnson. It was filed Friday.

The motion says that investigators questioned 25 educators at Jones Elementary, but included notes from only 19 interviews. No interview with Mrs. Howard is detailed, according to the motion.

Howard issued a statement saying Petrina Howard "was interviewed independently by State Investigators and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation during the cheating scandal investigation. The results of that investigation have been made public for all to see."

Howard's statement says the DA's office has "constructed a 'Chinese Wall' internally separating the M. Agnes Jones investigation from my oversight. The APS staff has been instructed to make independent determinations regarding this school without any judgment, consultation or direction from me." 

The motion says six Jones Elementary educators confessed to cheating. The defendant filing the motion worked at Dunbar Elementary "where, according to the cheating report, only one educator admitted to cheating on the 2009 CRCT. However five educators from Dunbar Elementary School have been charged" with crimes.

The motion argues that "although Mrs. Howard is currently listed as a 'reserve' witness for the State, any conflict will inevitably be compounded when she is called for a witness by either defense counsel or the district attorney's office." It calls for the appointment of an alternate prosecutor.

Howard's statement says the DA's office will contact the Attorney General's office if any conflicts arise.

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