In a four-month span, the former Atlanta schools human resources chief, whom prosecutors said helped hide a districtwide cheating scandal, landed and then left another high-level government job.
The City of College Park hired Millicent Few, who pleaded guilty four years ago for her role in the Atlanta Public Schools conspiracy, to be its human resources director in January. Her last day was May 11.
VIDEO: Previous coverage of the APS cheating case
Few left the College Park job by “mutual agreement,” said Mayor Jack Longino.
He would not elaborate. Neither would City Manager Terrence Moore, though when asked if the reason she left was connected to her APS history he responded: “not entirely.”
“It’s a personnel issue, and we can’t talk about that,” Longino said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested in late April records and emails related to Few’s hiring, after a reporter received a tip about her new job with the city. Fifteen days later, Few no longer worked for College Park. Her departure wasn’t related to the newspaper’s inquiries, officials said.
City officials said they knew about Few’s connection to the APS crimes before hiring her.
She was one of the highest-ranking school administrators charged in the case that exposed how district employees carried out and covered up a conspiracy to change student answers on standardized tests and then collect bonuses and raises based on fake scores.
In 2014, Few pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of malfeasance in office instead of being tried on two felony charges, racketeering and false swearing, that she originally faced.
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Few provided crucial testimony in the trial against a dozen educators, 11 of whom were found guilty of racketeering.
Few participated in a cover-up by failing to hand over documents about cheating allegations requested by the AJC through the Open Records Act, the prosecution said. The prosecution also said she “physically stood over” an employee and watched as that woman carried out an order from then-Superintendent Beverly Hall to shred draft documents from an internal investigation that found cheating had likely occurred. The prosecution described Few as one of Hall’s most trusted advisers.
Few told the court the district covered up cheating for several years. She said Hall told staff to falsify documents and withhold public information. Hall died before she went to trial.
For the misdemeanor, Few was sentenced to 12 months of probation, ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay $800. On the day of her plea, she apologized to citizens and students.
Few worked for APS from 1999 to 2011.
She declined to comment.
In January, the College Park city council approved her contract with an $87,000 annual salary. She also received retirement contributions equal to 12.25 percent of her salary.
Her duties included managing personnel, safety, benefits and risk-management programs for the city of roughly 15,000 people.
Moore sent an email in April informing city council and the mayor that the AJC was working on a story about College Park’s decision to hire Few “despite her being implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal while employed with that organization in a human resources leadership capacity several years prior.”
Councilman Roderick Gay responded:
“I told you Terrence in our weekly meetings that her appointment comes with public scrutiny, you and I had a thoughtful conversation and you didn’t convey any of those sentiments during our deliberations.”
Moore replied: “We all discussed that observation at the conclusion of interviews Monday, December 18th. It was likewise determined that after the background investigation, respective concerns were alleviated (Councilman Clay even then stated that he ‘felt better’ afterwards as a result). Meanwhile, please remain mindful that department directors have been (and currently are) a City Council ratification appointment, not via the sole discretion or direction of the City Manager in the City of College Park. Otherwise, point taken.”
Gay declined to comment about Few’s hiring. He referred questions to Moore and city spokesman Gerald Walker. Walker would only say that Few is no longer employed by the city. Councilman Ambrose Clay did not return a call seeking comment.
Longino said officials inquired about her APS history during an interview but said he couldn’t recall details of the conversation.
“It was answered well enough that she got support,” the mayor said.
An AJC records request seeking details of any severance payment is pending.
Few’s link to the APS cheating case cost her another job in 2012.
She was ousted after only a few days of working as a consultant for a Connecticut school district after an online search by officials showed the extent of the allegations she faced. At the time, the superintendent of that school district said it didn’t need “any unnecessary controversy.”
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