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Atlanta Educators Start Turning Themselves in at Fulton Jail Today in Cheating Scandal

Authorities are waiting for former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall to turn herself in at Fulton County Jail today after her indictment last Friday in the school cheating scandal.

Educators had until 11 a.m. Tuesday to surrender to authorities, but there was no word on whether Hall had yet turned herself in.

 Tameka Goodson, a school improvement specialist at Kennedy Middle School, surrendered at 12:30 a.m., testing coordinator Donald Bullock turned himself in just before 6 a.m. and Theresia Copeland, former Benteen Elementary testing coordinator, turned herself in just before 7 a.m.

“If a school achieved 70 percent of more of its targets, all employees at the school received a bonus,” the indictment against them said. “Additionally, if certain system-wide targets were achieved, Beverly Hall herself received a substantial bonus.”

The charges against Hall include conspiracy, making false statements and theft— some of the pay bonuses she received were tied to falsified scores on standardized tests.
Hall has denied that she was involved in cheating since the story first broke five years ago.
While prosecutors say that the educators cheated on the CRCT to reap “the benefit of financial rewards associated with high test scores,” some educators tried to shift the blame to the pressures created by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Under NCLB, school districts with low standardized test scores could be seriously penalized and even lose federal aid. 

“We don’t condone cheating, but when you have high-stakes testing, which are one-shot deals that don’t tell you whether a child is going to fail or succeed, the whole setup in terms of No Child Left Behind was unfair to children, unfair to educators,”  Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers said to MSNBC Monday.

The APS scandal is one of many that has engulfed the nation’s school districts since 2001 when NCLB was first signed into law. Since NCLB  mandated high-stakes testing in every state and tied it to federal funding, a wave of cheating scandals has swept the nation. Newspaper investigations have found evidence of cheating in more than 30 states, though the Atlanta case is considered the largest in U.S. history, implicating 178 teachers and principals — including 82 who confessed to cheating— and pulling in 44 schools in the 52,000-student district.

Hall, who retired in 2011, was charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Hall’s bail was set at $7.5 million bond for her and she could face up to 45 years in prison.


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