With a trial looming, here’s where things stand in the Atlanta school cheating scandal

February 19, 2014

In this June 2011 file photo, former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall, center, arrives for her last Atlanta school board meeting (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

A trial in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal is just three months away, and this week a high-ranking former official in the school system pleaded guilty and became what the Fulton County District Attorney’s office calls “the state’s most valuable witness.”

First, in case you need a refresher on the scandal: An investigation concluded that widespread cheating occurred on standardized tests in the Atlanta school system. According to report released in 2011 by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), the cheating harmed thousands of children, was found in dozens of schools and dated back several years. In March 2013, a grand jury indicted Beverly Hall, the former APS superintendent, and 34 other people for their roles in the scandal. You can read the entire indictment here to learn about how they were charged with racketeering (!), false statements and a host of other things.

This week, former APS human resources director Millicent Few pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against Hall (who, it is always worth remembering, was the 2009 national superintendent of the year). Few, the first person listed in the indictment after Hall, was charged with racketeering and false swearing last year. She was a member of Hall’s executive cabinet and will testify against the former superintendent, according to the district attorney’s office.

An attorney for Hall told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hall, who has pleaded not guilty, will “continue to fight the charges against her.”

Under her agreement, Few was sentenced to 12 months probation and 250 hours of community service and must give $800 in restitution to the school system. She also has to submit a letter of apology.

More than a dozen educators have pleaded guilty in connection with the case, including two principals and multiple teachers.

Cheating scandals centering on standardized tests have also cropped up elsewhere around the country. A probe found cheating in D.C. classrooms, with e-mails last month showing that school officials had been alerted to the cheating. In Philadelphia, more than 100 teachers and administrators were implicated in a cheating scandal that also includes a criminal investigation.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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