APS cheating scandal harmed Atlanta students

In October, APS awarded a $1.8 million contract with a non-profit group who will offer mentoring, support tutoring and provide other help for students affected by cheating. But most students won't see that extra help until next year. Read more on MyAJC.com.

Credit: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

In October, APS awarded a $1.8 million contract with a non-profit group who will offer mentoring, support tutoring and provide other help for students affected by cheating. But most students won't see that extra help until next year. Read more on MyAJC.com.

Fulton County’s prosecution of the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal resulted in more than 30 convictions of former teachers and educators.

Investigations were initiated after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in both 2008 and 2009, revealed some Atlanta public schools were posting statistically unbelievable scores on state tests.

In 2010, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed three special investigators — former Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb DA Bob Wilson and former judicial watchdog investigator Richard Hyde — to look into the issue. Their exhaustive report found a wide range of cheating violations as well as systemic misconduct at APS.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is sworn in before his testimony during the APS trial in 2014. (Kent D. Johnson / kdjohnson@ajc.com)

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

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Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

The victims were students who often were passed on to the next grade even though they couldn’t read, write or do basic math. The falsified test scores also meant schools missed out on grant money that could have gone to tutor the lagging students and other remedial programs.

Howard, relying heavily on the investigators’ findings, obtained a racketeering indictment against 35 educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall. Hall passed away before going to trial; 21 of her co-defendants entered guilty pleas. Of the remaining 12 who fought the charges, 11 were convicted during a trial that lasted from September 2014 until April 2015.

Tamara Cotman and Angela Williamson, two of the 11 who were convicted, exhausted their appeals and served their prison time. Two others later admitted their guilt in court and avoided prison time.

“There were thousands of children harmed in this thing,” Judge Jerry Baxter said at the April 2015 sentencing. “This is not a victimless crime.”