Hall a no-show at APS cheating tribunal

It was teacher Camille Neely’s tribunal hearing Thursday, but retired Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall was, in many ways, the star of the proceedings.

And Hall wasn’t even there.

The former superintendent, who retired as the standardized test cheating scandal consumed her district, was subpoenaed by Neely’s attorney to testify at Thursday’s hearing.

The attorney, Michael King, said he wanted Hall to testify about whether she knew his client was accused of changing answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test when Neely taught third grade at Gideons Elementary School.

Thomas Cox, an attorney representing APS, and Richard Dean, Hall’s personal attorney, noted that Hall, who didn't attend the hearing, received King’s subpoena Wednesday afternoon.

“She got it with such short notice, and she could not rearrange her affairs to be here,” Dean said.

King said that’s because he had been unable to locate Hall and APS refused to give him her last known address.

“Her testimony is relevant,” King declared. “There is no way we can get a fair hearing without that.”

Cox said the district had long ago told King it would not “spend taxpayers money” doing his job finding Hall.

The two sides wrangled for 90 minutes over whether Hall would be brought into the hearing and other procedural issues before the tribunal ruled that Hall was not subpoenaed in a timely manner and would not be required to appear Thursday.

The ruling meant that, for now, Hall would not have to answer questions publicly about cheating.

Her successor, Erroll Davis, also was subpoenaed by King, and he did appear -- marking the third time he has testified against employees he is trying to fire.

Davis missed a high school graduation as he was peppered for more than two hours with questions about what he personally knew about Neely’s alleged cheating.

He relied on the investigative work of others in recommending that Neely be fired, he said.

Neely -- who told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview earlier this month that she did not change any test answers -- invoked her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination some two dozen times when asked whether she had possession of test answers after the CRCT had been administered to her students, and, if so, how and why.

The tribunal adjourned late Thursday for deliberation.