The APS cheating trial sentences

APRIL 14, 2015 ATLANTA — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced convicted educators after the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial. AJC/Kent D. Johnson
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APRIL 14, 2015 ATLANTA — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced convicted educators after the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial. AJC/Kent D. Johnson

(UPDATED Sept. 28, 2018) The Atlanta Public Schools test cheating trial, which began on Sept. 29, 2014, involved 12 educators who did not take plea deals. On April 1, 2015, the jury found 11 of those defendants guilty of racketeering. The 13th defendant, former Superintendent Beverly Hall, did not face trial, on account of her illness with breast cancer, which eventually took her life on March 2, 2015.

Tamara Cotman, who was convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating case, reacts before she turns herself in outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. AJC file photo. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
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Tamara Cotman, who was convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating case, reacts before she turns herself in outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. AJC file photo. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Tamara Cotman, Former School Reform Team executive director

Charged with: Racketeering and influencing witnesses; found not guilty of trying to influence a witness

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Sentence: Three years in prison, seven years probation, 2,000 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine. (Original sentence included seven years in prison and 13 years probation.)

Sharon Davis-Williams, one of three former Atlanta Public Schools regional directors found guilty in a districtwide test-cheating scandal, speaks during a 2015 press conference. (KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)
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Sharon Davis-Williams, one of three former Atlanta Public Schools regional directors found guilty in a districtwide test-cheating scandal, speaks during a 2015 press conference. (KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

Sharon Davis-Williams, Former School Reform Team executive director

Charged with: Racketeering, false swearing, false statements and writing

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of RICO Act. NOT GUILTY of two counts of False Statements and Writings. Earlier charge of False Swearing DISMISSED.

Sentence: Three years in prison, seven years probation, 2,000 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine. (Original sentence included seven years in prison and 13 years probation.)

Former APS SRT Director Michael Pitts speaks during the press conference in 2015. (KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)
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Former APS SRT Director Michael Pitts speaks during the press conference in 2015. (KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Michael Pitts, Former School Reform Team executive director

Charged with: Racketeering and influencing witnesses

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GUILTY of Influencing Witnesses.

Sentence: Three years in prison, seven years probation, 2,000 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine. (Original sentence included seven years in prison and 13 years probation.) Three years to serve concurrent on Influencing Witnesses conviction.

Former Dobbs Elementary School principal Dana Evans talks with her lawyer, Bob Rubin. (Kent D. Johnson / AJC file photo / September 2015)
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Former Dobbs Elementary School principal Dana Evans talks with her lawyer, Bob Rubin. (Kent D. Johnson / AJC file photo / September 2015)

Dana Evans, Former principal of Dobbs Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. NOT GUILTY of three counts of False Statements and Writings. GUILTY of one count of False Statements and Writings.

Sentence: One year in prison, four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Given first-offender status.

Former APS Dobbs Elementary teacher Angela Williamson sits in court before sentencing starts in the test-cheating case, in September 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
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Former APS Dobbs Elementary teacher Angela Williamson sits in court before sentencing starts in the test-cheating case, in September 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Angela Williamson, Former teacher at Dobbs Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings, false swearing

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GUILTY of four counts of False Statements and Writings.

Sentence: Two years in prison, three years probation, 1,500 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. Given first-offender status.

Former APS Deerwood Academy asst principal Tabeeka Jordan listens during a sentencing hearing Tuesday. Sentencing continues for 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
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Former APS Deerwood Academy asst principal Tabeeka Jordan listens during a sentencing hearing Tuesday. Sentencing continues for 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Tabeeka Jordan, Former assistant principal of Deerwood Academy

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and theft by taking

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. NOT GUILTY of False Statements and Writings. NOT GUILTY of Theft by Taking.

Sentence: Two years in prison, three years probation, 1,500 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. Given first-offender status.

Former APS Usher Collier Heights Elem testing coordinator Donald Bullock testifies during sentencing Monday. Sentencing of 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Monday April 13 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
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Former APS Usher Collier Heights Elem testing coordinator Donald Bullock testifies during sentencing Monday. Sentencing of 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Monday April 13 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Donald Bullock, Former testing coordinator at BE Usher/ Collier Hgts Elem

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements or writings, false swearing

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of RICO Act. NOT GUILTY of one count of False Statements and Writings. GUILTY of two counts of False Statements and Writings. GUILTY of False Swearing.

Sentence: Took plea deal before sentencing, including 6 mos. of weekends in jail, 5 years of probation, 1,500 hrs of service, a $5K fine and an apology. Given first-offender status.

Former APS Benteen Elementary testing coordinator Theresia Copeland speaks during the press conference. Several of the former Atlanta Public Schools educators convicted and sentenced to prison, speak during a press conference at the law offices of defense attorney George Lawson Friday, April 17, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
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Former APS Benteen Elementary testing coordinator Theresia Copeland speaks during the press conference. Several of the former Atlanta Public Schools educators convicted and sentenced to prison, speak during a press conference at the law offices of defense attorney George Lawson Friday, April 17, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Theresia Copeland, Former testing coordinator at Benteen Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements or writings, theft by taking

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. NOT GUILTY of Theft by Taking. GUILTY of one count of False Statements and Writings. One count of False Statements and Writings DISMISSED.

Sentence: One year in prison, four years probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Given first-offender status.

“I have no regrets about not taking the deal. I’m innocent,” said former Dunbar Elementary School teacher Diane Buckner-Webb. With her was  her defense attorney Keith Adams at the law offices of defense attorney George Lawson Friday, April 17, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
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“I have no regrets about not taking the deal. I’m innocent,” said former Dunbar Elementary School teacher Diane Buckner-Webb. With her was  her defense attorney Keith Adams at the law offices of defense attorney George Lawson Friday, April 17, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Diane Buckner-Webb, Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GUILTY of two counts of False Statements and Writings.

Sentence: One year in prison, four years probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Given first-offender status.

Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Pamela Cleveland listens during sentencing. Sentencing continues for 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
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Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Pamela Cleveland listens during sentencing. Sentencing continues for 10 of the 11 defendants convicted of racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Pamela Cleveland, Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GUILTY of two counts of False Statements and Writings.

Sentence: Took the plea deal on the day of sentencing and issued an apology. Sentenced to five years of probation with one year of home confinement, 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Given first-offender status.

LAST APS EDUCATOR SENTENCED--SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 ATLANTA Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Shani Robinson listens to appeals in her case during sentencing. The final defendant in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial appears for sentencing before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Shani Robinson's sentencing was delayed from April because she gave birth to a son. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced her to 1 year of prison. Judge Baxter will also address the issues of two other former educators -- Armstead Salters and Sheridan Rogers -- who did not testify as they had promised when they struck a deal with prosecutors. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
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LAST APS EDUCATOR SENTENCED--SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 ATLANTA Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Shani Robinson listens to appeals in her case during sentencing. The final defendant in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial appears for sentencing before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Former APS Dunbar Elementary teacher Shani Robinson's sentencing was delayed from April because she gave birth to a son. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced her to 1 year of prison. Judge Baxter will also address the issues of two other former educators -- Armstead Salters and Sheridan Rogers -- who did not testify as they had promised when they struck a deal with prosecutors. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Shani Robinson, Former teacher at Dunbar Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings

Verdict: GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GUILTY of False Statements and Writings.

Sentence: Gave birth at the time of sentencing and will be sentenced in August.

Found not guilty | Dessa Curb
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Found not guilty | Dessa Curb

Dessa Curb, Former teacher at Dobbs Elementary

Charged with: Racketeering, false statements and writings

Verdict: NOT GUILTY of violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. NOT GUILTY of two counts of False Statements and Writings.

Former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall during a 2011 school board meeting when board members were discussing her future amid cheating allegations. (KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)
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Former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall during a 2011 school board meeting when board members were discussing her future amid cheating allegations. (KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.

Others named in the original indictments list:

Beverly Hall, former superintendent, died of breast cancer on March 2, 2015.

Tameka Goodson, former instructional coach at Kennedy Middle, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2013, to obstruction and was given probation. Goodson admitted to changing answers on student standardized tests in 2008 with secretary Carol Dennis under the direction of their principal, Lucious Brown.

Gregory Reid, former assistant principal of Parks Middle, pleaded guilty on Dec. 16, 2013, to two counts of obstruction. His decision to testify for the prosecution likely influenced Christopher Waller’s move (see below) to enter a guilty plea.

Sandra Ward, former testing coordinator at Parks Middle, pleaded guilty on Feb. 21, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction and was given probation. During trial, she testified that Parks teachers corrected answers on students’ state test answer sheets while former Parks principal Christopher Waller took the school’s testing coordinator out to long lunches. In November, 2014, she was hired to teach in Birmingham, Ala.

Starlette Mitchell, a former teacher at Parks Middle, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction. She received one year probation.

Sheridan Rogers, a former testing coordinator at Gideons Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2013, to obstruction. She admitted to following orders from her principal, Armstead Salters, to give Gideons’ teachers access to their tests and answer sheets. This allowed teachers to change wrong answers to right ones.

Wendy Ahmed, a former teacher at Humphries Elementary, pleaded guilty Dec. 19, 2013, to a misdemeanor count of obstruction. She admitted telling her students the correct answers while they took the 2009 test.

Lisa Terry, a former teacher at Humphries Elementary, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2013, to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction, the first educator to enter a guilty plea. Terry admitted that she allowed students to go back and change their answers on the 2009 CRCT.

Ingrid Abella-Sly, a former teacher at Humphries Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 13, 2013, to a misdemeanor obstruction charge and admitted she gave students answers on standardized tests.

Sheila Evans, a former teacher at Benteen Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 16, 2013, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction.

Gloria Ivey, a former teacher at Dunbar Elementary, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction. Ivey admitted to admonishing students to rethink incorrect test answers as she walked around her class; she pointed to the correct answers in some cases.

Millicent Few, a former APS human resources director, pleaded guilty on Feb. 17, 2014, to misdemeanor malfeasance in office. At trial, Few testified that Hall ordered staff to shred a critical internal investigation report, and that cover-ups went back to the 2006-07 school year.

Clarietta Davis, a former principal of Venetian Hills Elementary, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one felony count of false statements. She admitted to changing answers from wrong to right on standardized tests in 2007 and 2008.

Armstead Salters, a former principal of Gideons Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 19, 2013, to a felony count of making false statements and writings since he signed off on tests taken by his students.

Francis Mack, a former testing coordinator at D.H. Stanton Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2013, to obstruction. Prosecutors said Mack did not participate in test cheating but had previously been told about testing irregularities and did not disclose that information to investigators.

Willie Davenport, the former principal at D.H. Stanton Elementary, passed away in September 2013 while still scheduled to go on trial.

Christopher Waller, the former principal of Parks Middle, pleaded guilty on Feb. 21, 2014, to a felony count of making false statements. At trial, Waller testified that he orchestrated cheating at Parks Middle School and then kept quiet about it at the direction of superiors, including Michael Pitts.

Derrick Broadwater, a former teacher at Dobbs Elementary, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction.

Shayla Smith, a former teacher at Dobbs Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013, to a single misdemeanor count of obstruction. At trial, she testified that she and other teachers changed students’ answers on state tests in 2007.

Kimbery Oden, a former teacher at Parks Middle, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction.

Lucious Brown, the former principal of Kennedy Middle, pleaded guilty on Jan. 17, 2014, to interfering with government property. He admitted erasing students’ answers and changing them in 2008 and 2009. At trial, he admitted to working with three other staff members at Kennedy to change answers on state achievement tests for two years in a row.

Lera Middlebrooks, a former testing coordinator at Dunbar Elementary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 18, 2013, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction. She admitted to giving teachers answer sheets for standardized tests after students had taken the tests.

Carol Dennis, a secretary at Kennedy Middle, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of obstruction. She said she corrected student answers on the 2008 and 2009 CRCTs at Lucious Brown’s request.