School Standards group to vote on cheating probe

DeKalb prosecuting 2 on felony charge of falsifying, too.

A committee for the agency charged with policing Georgia teaching credentials on Wednesday recommended a formal investigation of two DeKalb County administrators who are alleged to have cheated on state tests.

The recommendation, which is likely to be approved, will go before members of the entire Georgia Professional Standards Commission at a meeting today.

The move comes a month after the state released a preliminary audit that showed someone at four Georgia elementary schools deliberately changed students' answers last summer on fifth-grade standardized math retests. The changes helped all four schools, including DeKalb's Atherton Elementary, meet federal standards.

Former Atherton Principal James Berry immediately resigned and his former assistant principal, Doretha Alexander, was reassigned pending further investigation.

The two could face sanctions by the commission, ranging from a reprimand to loss of license. Commissioner Maria Bradley, speaking generally and not about these specific cases, said the commission in the past has suspended educators' certificates at least 90 days if they cheated on tests.

Both Berry and Alexander also face a rare criminal prosecution by DeKalb authorities on a felony charge of falsifying a state document.

The charge carries a potential two- to 10-year prison term.

Parklane Elementary in Fulton County, Deerwood Academy in Atlanta and Burroughs-Molette Elementary in Glynn County were the other schools named in the audit.

Gary Walker, director of educator ethics for the commission, said Glynn County has asked the agency to consider disciplining four individuals, identified last month by county officials as two teachers, a clerical worker and a now-retired administrator.

Walker said the agency did not get the Glynn files in time for this month's meeting and would likely consider an investigation at the commission's next meeting in September.

By then, Walker expects to also have complaints about individuals in Atlanta and Fulton.

The two former Atherton administrators could face sanctions by the commission, ranging from a reprimand to loss of license.