Atlanta, Fulton officials may face sanctions in test scandal

Four more Georgia educators, including two from Fulton County and two from Atlanta, will find out Wednesday what sanctions they may face in the wake of a statewide test cheating scandal.

A committee for the agency charged with policing Georgia teaching credentials meets at noon Wednesday to discuss ethics investigations that include the four. Any committee recommendation to sanction the officials would go before the entire Georgia Professional Standards Commission for action at a meeting Thursday.

The commission so far has banned four Glynn County educators and a former DeKalb County assistant principal from its public schools for a year as punishment in the scandal. Members also suspended former DeKalb County principal James Berry for two years and indicated they gave Berry a harsher sanction because he confessed. Sanctions by the commission can range from a reprimand to loss of license.

The scandal started this summer after an audit by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement found evidence that four schools turned in questionable results for state tests taken in the summer of 2008.

Those results were from fifth-grade math retests on the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, taken by students from DeKalb's Atherton Elementary, Fulton's Parklane Elementary, Glynn's Burroughs-Molette Elementary and Atlanta's Deerwood Academy.

The audit found evidence of an abnormal number of erasures at those schools on those retests, in which the wrong answer often was replaced by the right one. The state investigation followed an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last December of improbably steep gains at some schools on tests taken first in spring and then in summer.

State officials said the higher scores helped the schools meet federal standards. They also said that students were not the ones they suspected of cheating. The commission then began to formally investigate school officials at those four schools.

Gary Walker, director of educator ethics for the commission, said Tuesday that cases up for consideration by the committee Wednesday include completed investigations for former Parklane principal Lee Adams and assistant principal Vicki Bulluck. Both Adams and Bulluck still work in the Fulton school system but at different jobs.

The committee also will consider completed investigations for Deerwood Principal Lisa Smith and former Deerwood Assistant Principal Tabeeka Jordan, who is on leave with pay for a personnel matter believed to be related to this case.

Four other related investigations involving educators from the Atlanta school are ongoing.