Atlanta Public Schools said Monday it would not fire employees who refuse to
incriminate themselves in a criminal investigation of cheating on
The announcement came during a court hearing for a principal, Lucious Brown of
Kennedy Middle School, who has been subpoenaed to appear before the special
investigators looking into irregularities with the 2009 Criterion-Referenced
Investigators have told Brown he could face prosecution for orchestrating
cheating, his lawyer, Brian Steel, said. Brown is one of several dozen
school officials summoned for questioning this week.
Chief Judge Cynthia Wright of Fulton County Superior Court denied Brown’s
request to cancel the interrogation. Wright rejected Steel’s arguments that
the special investigators appointed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue — Mike
Bowers, Bob Wilson and Richard Hyde — lack subpoena power.
Steel said the investigators have assumed broad powers without judicial
oversight. But Bowers said state law gives the governor the authority to
appoint investigators such as himself.
Steel also said that an “edict” by Superintendent Beverly Hall, instructing
district employees to cooperate with the investigation, illegally deprives
employees of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. “My
client,” Steel said, “is being put between a rock and a hard place: job or
But Wright said the district’s promise to not fire employees rendered the
Brown’s school posted dramatic gains on the CRCT in 2008 and 2009, but was
flagged by state officials for excessive numbers of wrong-to-right erasures
on test papers.
In court documents, Steel said Brown “has done nothing unethical, immoral or
Bowers said only that the interrogation is “an interview of someone about whom
we have information.”
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