Atlanta school Principal Lisa Smith has been reinstated to her position effective July 1, after successfully appealing a one-year suspension handed down following a statewide test cheating scandal last year.
Smith, principal of the city's Deerwood Academy, was one of 13 Georgia educators sanctioned in the scandal, which involved questionable results on state tests taken in summer of 2008 at four schools. An audit by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement found evidence at those schools of an abnormal number of erasures, in which the wrong answer often was replaced by the right one.
The state investigation came after an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed improbable gains at some Georgia schools on tests taken that year, first in spring and then in summer.
Smith and her attorney, Warren Fortson, were adamant from the beginning that she did nothing wrong. Fortson called the sanction "a travesty" when it came last December, saying that Smith was not even on campus during testing that summer because she was on vacation. "She's an exceptionally fine educator," Fortson said Friday. "I'm very glad she was cleared. She'd never done anything" to deserve what happened, he said.
Gary Walker, director of educator ethics for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, a state agency that polices state teaching credentials, said Smith's record in the matter will reflect a finding of no probable cause.
Walker said the attorney general's investigation found that Smith was not in charge at the time of the incident.
During her appeal, Smith was temporarily reassigned to Atlanta Public Schools' central office, working in the curriculum and instruction division.
Sanctions handed down by the commission ranged from suspensions of 90 days to two years. Smith was one of five Atlanta educators caught up in the scandal. The others either have appeals pending or accepted their punishment, Walker said.