The former head of human resources for Atlanta Public Schools pleaded guilty Monday, the highest-ranking educator to admit wrongdoing in the widespread cheating case.
Millicent Few, 55, said in a plea agreement with prosecutors that former Superintendent Beverly Hall was aware of cheating and ordered her to destroy investigations of suspicious score increases on standardized tests.
Few will likely play a key role as a witness for the prosecution when the case against the remaining defendants goes to trial, said Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.
“You were up at the top, and the state, it appears, needs you as an important witness in this case. It’s their position that you observed it first-hand,” Baxter said.
She also agreed to cooperate in the ongoing case against the remaining defendants accused of conspiring to cheat, including Hall.
Hall has pleaded not guilty, and her attorneys have denied wrongdoing.
“This does not change Dr. Hall’s resolve to continue to fight the charges against her. She is presumed innocent and continues to look forward to her day in court,” said Richard Deane, an attorney for Hall.
Under the plea deal, Few avoided two felony charges and instead pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of malfeasance in office.
“I want to sincerely apologize to the citizens of Atlanta and specifically the students,” Few told Baxter. “I want to apologize to them and I look forward to hopefully moving forward with my life.”
Few will serve one year of probation, contribute 250 hours of community service and pay $800 in restitution. As a first-time offender, she won’t have a conviction on her record if she completes her probation.
In the plea agreement, read aloud in court by lead prosecutor Fani Willis, Few acknowledged that Hall ordered an internal investigation of cheating at Deerwood Academy to be shredded. Another investigation of allegations at Parks Middle School couldn’t be located.
Few said she became convinced by 2008 that there was widespread cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, but she didn’t tell special investigators about it when she was questioned in 2011.
Few became the 19th defendant to plead guilty in the case.
Fifteen defendants remain, although additional guilty pleas may be made before the trial of those left. The trial is expected to begin as soon as May.