Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Errol Davis has kicked up a firestorm of controversy after reinstating 12 teachers implicated in the standardized test cheating scandal that consumed the district in 2010. Davis cited “insufficient evidence” for dismissal, even after a special investigation by the governor’s office suggested otherwise.
The teachers aren’t completely cleared though. If any evidence surfaces that could be used against the teachers, APS reserves the right bring up new charges. Eight of the reinstated teachers worked at Peyton Elementary School, the school that had the highest reported wrong-to-right erasures. Former Georgia State Attorney General Mike Bowers, who assisted in the investigation, is not happy about the decision.
“They haven’t learned a thing. That they have let these people off given what the report says is outrageous,” said Bowers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Both governors [Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal] gave us the same directive: Call it as you see it. We did that. We weren’t going to cover up anything.”
APS spokesperson Keith Bromery has a different point of view. “In these cases, the only evidence of teacher misconduct was circumstantial evidence associated with relatively high numbers of wrong-to-right erasures on test answer sheets and resultant increases in scores from previous test results,” he said. “There is no direct evidence establishing that the individual teachers in these cases were involved in any misconduct.”
Bromery went on to say there was more evidence of a small group of teachers doing the erasures on a large number of tests administered by many teachers. Consequently, a teacher’s tests could have been altered without her knowledge.
Patrick Moore, an attorney who represented the eight Peyton teachers, is satisfied with the decision. “If not for APS fixing these mistakes, there would have been eight teachers — eight extraordinary teachers — who would no longer be able to work with young people again,” said Moore. “That would have been a travesty.”