The Atlanta Public Schools official under investigation for advising principals to tell GBI agents to “go to hell” was reassigned Monday.
District leaders moved Tamara Cotman from her position supervising about 25 elementary and middle schools to another job in the system's English as a second language department until the inquiry is finished.
District spokesman Keith Bromery declined to elaborate on the reasons for the transfer or provide further details on Cotman’s new job.
The reassignment marked an abrupt shift for the district, which had allowed Cotman to continue in her supervisory position for two months after it received a complaint about a meeting with principals.
In the meeting, the anonymous complaint said, Cotman repeatedly denigrated the GBI, former Gov. Sonny Perdue and the special investigators he appointed to determine whether widespread cheating occurred in Atlanta schools in 2009.
Cotman allegedly told the 12 principals to refuse to cooperate with the investigation and handed them notes pre-printed with the phrase “go to hell,” instructing them to write their own memos to the investigators on that theme. She then asked them to share their memos aloud, according to the complaint.
Principals in Cotman’s region learned of her transfer Monday morning during a hastily arranged conference call with Kathy Augustine, the deputy superintendent for instruction.
Augustine told the principals that Cotman had been reassigned “pending two investigations,” according to a principal who participated in the conference call. The principal spoke on condition of anonymity because of a fear of reprisal.
Augustine gave no details on the two investigations, the principal said. However, the district acknowledged last week it is conducting its own inquiry into Cotman’s actions, and state investigators have interviewed at least two principals about the matter.
Augustine emphasized that Cotman “has not been let go,” the principal said after the conference call, which Augustine conducted with the three remaining directors of school reform teams.
As executive director of school reform team 4, Cotman served essentially as an area superintendent based in southwest Atlanta for a cluster of schools. She is the highest-ranking Atlanta official to publicly come under scrutiny in the cheating scandal.
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