Judge rejects APS defendant’s bid to suppress statements

The judge handling the criminal case related to allegations of cheating in Atlanta Public Schools rejected a special education teacher’s request Friday to suppress statements she made to investigators.

Dessa Curb, who taught at Dobbs Elementary School, testified that she thought she could lose her job if she didn’t speak with GBI agents and special investigators who were looking into suspected cheating on standardized tests.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter also denied a similar motion earlier this week from another defendant in the case who was seeking to suppress her statements.

Brett Pinion, a senior assistant district attorney, argued that Curb’s statements were voluntary.

Curb said she didn't cheat when asked by state investigators during three interviews in February and March 2011, but the state cheating investigation, released in July 2011, said Curb admitted erasing students' incorrect answers when students filled in more than one answer on the test.

Curb is one of 34 former educators facing criminal charges related to allegations that they conspired to change answers on Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests so their schools could meet academic standards and receive bonus pay. She’s charged with making false statements and racketeering.

Curb’s attorney, Sandy Wallack, said in court that Curb felt intimidated into talking with investigators. He said memos from administrators told educators they would risk being fired if they didn’t cooperate.

“I had to cooperate with the investigation or face being terminated,” Curb said in court Friday.

The state didn’t get any incriminating evidence against Curb from her statements, Pinion said. Prosecutors will rely on testimony from other witnesses to attempt to prove the charges that she made false statements, he said.