Last tribunal in APS cheating upholds educator’s firing

A three-person panel has upheld the dismissal of a former Atlanta Public Schools testing coordinator, the last educator whose job status hadn’t been settled after allegations of involvement in cheating.

The panel found that Juanessa Booker “did not take adequate steps to maintain integrity” during the administration of the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test at Scott Elementary, according to findings obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open-records request.

Booker was the only one of 185 educators named in a June 2011 state cheating investigation whose employment with Atlanta Public Schools hadn’t been resolved. All but about 24 of those implicated resigned, retired or were fired.

Booker denied during her April 23 hearing that she erased answers or knew that others were cheating, but attorneys for Atlanta Public Schools argued that Booker failed to do her job of maintaining the integrity of tests.

About 68 percent of classrooms at Scott Elementary were flagged for suspiciously high numbers of wrong answers erased and corrected on the 2009 CRCT, according to the state investigation.

Booker last worked for Atlanta Public Schools in the 2011-2012 school year. She had been seeking reinstatement and back pay. Her attorney didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

While Atlanta Public Schools’ proceedings involving cheating allegations have come to a close, other cheating-related cases remain.

Thirteen former educators, including Superintendent Beverly Hall, face criminal charges in a trial scheduled to begin this fall. Also, dozens of appeals are pending from educators whose certifications have been recommended for suspension or revocation by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.