Five top administrators, including retired APS superintendent Beverly Hall, six principals, two assistant principals and six testing coordinators, were among 35 former Atlanta public schools employees charged with 65 counts in an indictment returned by a Fulton County grand jury on Friday. The indictment contained a total of 65 counts, including racketeering, making false statements and writings; false swearing (perjury), theft by taking and influencing.
Beverly Hall: The comprehensive, state-led investigation showed that former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides systematically ignored, destroyed or altered complaints and other records about misconduct and never admitted to wrongdoing in the massive cheating scandal that nearly brought down the system. In essence, the report said that during her 12-year reign, Hall, in an effort to to meet tough academic targets, created a culture of cheating then turned a blind eye to it. The special investigators’ report described years of misconduct, much of it coming directly out of the superintendent’s office. The report attributes Hall's "aloof leadership style" with contributing to an overall atmosphere that fueled cheating, mistrust and suppression. In statements issued through her lawyer and in an Op-Ed piece published in July 2011in the AJC, Hall denied that she, her staff or the "vast majority" of Atlanta educators knew or should have known of "allegedly widespread" cheating. She retired June 30, 2011. She turned herself in Tuesday.
Millicent Few: According to the state investigation, Millicent Few, the head of human resources for the district, “illegally ordered” the destruction of early, damaging drafts of an outside lawyer’s investigation of test-tampering at Atlanta’s Deerwood Academy. In another instance, Few ordered staff to destroy a case log of cheating-related internal investigations after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested it, the report said. Few told staff to replace the old log with a new, altered version. When the district finally produced the complaints, the investigators wrote, it illegally withheld cases that made it “look bad” — either because its investigation was poor or because wrongdoing received minimal sanction. Like others, Few also made false statements to the investigators, the report said. Few has denied that she tampered with documents or ordered anyone else to do so. Few tried to leave Atlanta and start over. She moved to Connecticut and became a consultant in Bridgeport Public Schools. But in February 2012, after only two days on the job, Few was fired after Bridgeport officials learned the full extent of the allegations against her. She moved to Connecticut and became a consultant in Bridgeport Public Schools. But in February, after only two days on the job, Few was fired after Bridgeport officials learned the full extent of the allegations against her.
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Tamara Cotman: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Cotman, who oversaw schools in some of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods, advised principals to refuse to cooperate with the cheating inquiry. Meeting in 2010 with a dozen principals from schools where test scores were most supect, she disparaged the state investigation then told the principals to write and read aloud memos telling state investigators to "go to hell." She was also accused of retaliating against an employee who answered questions about the memos. In a television interview along with other area superintendents accused of wrongdoing, Cotman denied any knowledge of widespread cheating. "I am going to fight not just for the job, but I had a reputation and career and a focus on serving children," Cotman said.
Christopher Waller: One of the key figures in the state investigative report, Waller was principal of Parks Middle School where seven educators confessed to cheating, and six others, including Waller were implicated. Cheating reportedly occurred at the school each year from 2006 through 2010, and investigators said Waller bullied teachers into copying exams and erasing wrong answers. A teacher who admitted his role in the cheating said Waller organized cheating “parties” with teachers. Another teacher told investigators that in 2009, two staff members loaded test papers into a blue cooler and delivered them to rooms where teachers corrected students’ mistakes. They returned later with the cooler and hauled the tests away. Waller denied wrongdoing, saying that if tampering occurred, it must have been after test papers left the school. He also said he wouldn’t cheat because he is a minister and because he wouldn’t have risked his $107,000-a-year salary. Hall had held Waller up as a model principal who got results by pushing educators to unlock the potential of underachieving poor students. Reassigned in 2010 while the state conducted its probe, Waller resigned from the district in 2012, citing personal reasons.