Tribunal supports firing of Gideons Elementary teacher

Gideons Elementary School teacher Camille Neely was recommended for termination by an Atlanta Public Schools tribunal Thursday for helping students to cheat on a state exam.

Neely, a 20-year veteran teacher, was reported to have a suspiciously high number of wrong-to-right erasures on the 2009 Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in all of her classes. The third-grade teacher was accused of participating in a conspiracy to erase and change answers that state investigators said was orchestrated by the principal of Gideons and a testing coordinator.

She was referred for termination by Superintendent Erroll Davis in an effort to purge the district of educators who cheated on the state exam.

"The superintendent lost confidence in this employee's ability to continue her duties as an educator," Keith Bromery, APS spokesman, said Thursday.

According to state investigators, Neely admitted to receiving answer keys from a testing coordinator and using the sheets to check student answers.

The teacher, however, maintained that her students did well on the test and she did not change their answers.

In an interview before her tribunal, she said: "I did not cheat ... I never changed a single answer."

But during her tribunal last week, she invoked her Fifth 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.

Her attorney, Michael King, subpoenaed former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall to testify about whether she knew his client was accused of changing answers on the 2009 state exam.

"There is no way we can get a fair hearing without that," King said earlier.

An attorney for Hall said she received the subpoena on short notice and could not show up.

The recommendation to fire Neely will be forwarded to the APS school board for a vote.


About 80 educators suspected of cheating remain on the Atlanta Public Schools district's payroll, including teachers and administrators. They can make their case to keep their jobs before an APS tribunal. Once the hearings are held and terminations are recommended, the matter goes to the school board for approval. Once approved by the board, the employee is terminated immediately. This happens regardless of their intent to appeal, APS spokesman Keith Bromery said.


Number of educators whose recommended firing has been upheld by a tribunal: 8

Number of letters sent to educators outlining charges and the school district's intent to terminate: 50

Number of educators notified that their contracts will not be renewed; some will have the option of a hearing: 78