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Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Ex-Educators Sentenced to Prison

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Ex-Educators Sentenced to Prison

Calling the case “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town,” a judge sentenced eight former Atlanta public school educators to prison terms Tuesday following their convictions earlier this month of participating in a broad conspiracy to cheat on student standardized tests.

Reports WSJ:

Three former high-ranking administrators were given 20-year sentences with seven served in prison, even though prosecutors had recommended five-year sentences with three served in prison. Other defendants received lesser sentences. All were given probation, fines and community service.

“There were thousands of children that were harmed in this thing,” said Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, who later called the scandal, “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town.”

The sentencing was supposed to occur Monday, but the judge postponed it until Tuesday to give the prosecutors and defendants time to work out plea deals. Two defendants took plea deals, in which they publicly apologized for wrongdoing and were given probation and weekend jail time.

The hearing was raucous at times, with relatives of the defendants crying and lawyers arguing with the judge. Defense lawyers said their clients planned to appeal.

Michael Pitts, a former school administrator, told the court he was sorry the cheating took place, but he said he didn’t know it was happening.

“If I had known, I would have turned it in,” he said.

Judge Baxter, exasperated at points in the proceedings, told defendants that he wanted them to admit wrongdoing.

“All I want from any of these people is just to take some responsibility, but they refuse,” he said.

The sentences bring to a close, for the most part, a case that transfixed Atlanta for years and threw a large, urban school system into turmoil. An 11th convicted defendant just had a baby and will be sentenced later. In all, 35 people were indicted in March 2013 in one of the largest school-cheating scandals in U.S. history. The group included Beverly Hall, the district’s nationally praised superintendent.

Correction: An earlier version of this post, citing an AP report, incorrectly said nine ex-educators received time behind bars. It was eight people.

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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.


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