Former DeKalb school principal sentenced in cheating case

A former DeKalb County principal pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to cheating on state tests, saying pressure to meet targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act led her to cheat.

But former Cedar Grove Middle School Principal Agnes Flanagan said she took responsibility for her actions.

“I have learned the true meaning of accountability,” she said in court.

Flanagan pleaded guilty to six charges, two counts each of forgery, making a false statement and public-records fraud. Her indictment had included three counts of each charge.

She was sentenced to five years probation. She must also pay a $6,000 fine and complete 200 hours of community service. She apologized Wednesday to everyone affected by the cheating.

She was indicted in 2013 and accused of instructing teachers to change students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

Prosecutors said she changed answers herself and forced teachers to change answers.

A DeKalb grand jury returned indictments against Flanagan and two other DeKalb school administrators shortly after 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators were indicted in the Atlanta cheating scandal.

One of the other DeKalb educators, former Rock Chapel Elementary School principal Angela Jennings, pleaded guilty earlier to charges related to removing students temporarily from enrollment records so their state test results would not count toward the school’s average scores. She received a $1,000 fine and five years probation, during which she cannot seek or accept employment in a Georgia school system.

The case against the other DeKalb educator, former Stoneview Elementary School assistant principal Derrick Wooten, is still open.

“The losers in these cases, quite frankly, are the citizens of the county, the children of the county,” DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said. “Even when there is a guilty plea … no one wins when our school systems fail and our teachers cheat.”