A 7-month trial? APS judge says it’s possible


In 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the first of what would be several stories highlighting suspect test scores in Atlanta Public Schools and other Georgia districts. In the years that followed, the newspaper continued to dig, and eventually special investigators appointed by the governor exposed widespread cheating in the 50,000-student APS district. The APS trial is the latest chapter in that coverage. Follow along on Twitter: @AJCcourts.

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial could run well into the spring.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, who presides over the trial, said Monday that testimony could continue into April. That would be about seven months after the first day of testimony in late September.

“I’m asking you not to become impatient, although that’s maybe a Herculean task,” Baxter told jurors.

Twelve former APS administrators and educators are on trial, accused of conspiring to cheat on state tests.

So far, the prosecution has called more than 70 witnesses, including current Atlanta students and staff.

Prosecutor Fani Willis said the state, which presented its first witness on Sept. 30, expects to finish presenting its case around Valentine’s Day.

On Monday, Atlanta teacher Schajuan Jones testified that she never cheated on state tests.

“I don’t have to,” she told a prosecutor. “I teach kids.”

But Jones said she saw a Dobbs Elementary School fifth-grader run after principal Dana Evans and tell her that a teacher had given students answers to state tests.

Evans brushed the boy aside and kept walking, Jones said.

The student, now 17 and in high school, testified last week that he told a Dobbs staff member that his friends told him about cheating.

Jones said she reported problems at Dobbs to Evans and to regional supervisor Michael Pitts but nothing changed.

“This is why people don’t tell,” Jones said of the lack of response.

Evans and Pitts are defendants, as are former Dobbs teachers Angela Williamson and Dessa Curb.

A former Dobbs student testified Monday that Williamson gave her and other students answers on fourth-grade state tests. Her account echoed that of other former Dobbs students who took the stand last week.

Yet Monday’s student, now a high school sophomore, said Williamson was a good teacher.

“She was good for advice and other things that I needed help with,” the student said.