Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard speaks during a press conference following the sentencing of defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial. Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Promised help for victims of Atlanta schools cheating hasn’t come

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard stood before a bank of reporters in April after a judge sentenced former Atlanta educators for their roles in a districtwide cheating conspiracy and promised to right the wrongs done to thousands of children.

“What we plan to do is rather simple,” he said in announcing the creation of the Atlanta Redemption Academy: identify students who were harmed by the cheating, assess the damage and then fix it with tutoring, GED classes or job training.

Six months later, there’s little evidence that Howard has moved to make those plans a reality.

The Redemption Academy is “on hold,” Howard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, admitting that his initial plans may have been too ambitious. He has not been able to raise the millions he estimates it would cost.

Even the Atlanta Public Schools’ separate program to help children affected by cheating won’t be completely up and running until at least January.

That leaves some parents with the sense that, once again, Atlanta is cheating its children.

The delay in establishing the Redemption Academy, which would work only with students no longer in Atlanta schools, has caused problems for the 11 former educators convicted in the cheating scandal: Their sentences include thousands of hours of community service. Prosecutors, who must approve any community service, have said much of that work should be with the Redemption Academy.

“We would love to work with the Redemption Academy, if it existed,” said attorney Gerald Griggs, who represented former Dobbs Elementary School teacher Angela Williamson. “But it doesn’t exist. Hopefully the judge will accept what we’re doing now and will hold the District Attorney’s Office accountable. You have to ask, was this really about the children?”

Read the full story on MyAJC.com.

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