Testimony begins in first Atlanta school cheating case

  • Follow Metro

ATLANTA — The first trial is underway for an educator charged in a massive cheating scandal in Atlanta’s public school system.

Testimony began Friday in the trial of former area director Tamara Cotman, the first of about three dozen former administrators and teachers to stand trial.

Witnesses could include former Gov. Son­ny Perdue, who ordered a state investigation of the claims.

Prosecutors will try to outline how cheating happened on such a broad scale. Cotman has pleaded not guilty to influencing a witness.

The 2011 state investigation concluded that cheating occurred at 44 schools so educators could avoid losing their jobs and earn bonuses.

Opening testimony showed Cotman rebuffed a teacher who reported that she had been given standardized test answer sheets. Mary Gordon, who taught at Turner Middle School, said Cotman told her “they just do that at Turner” when asked about the answer sheets. Gordon’s principal then put her on an improvement plan, and Gordon quit out of frustration, ending a 29-year career.

Gordon testified for the prosecution to back up charges alleging that Cotman harassed and demoted a principal she believed told the school board that Cotman gave instructions to tell cheating scandal investigators to “go to hell.”

Cotman is one of 35 former administrators and teachers, including former Super­in­ten­dent Beverly Hall, who later will be tried on criminal charges of changing students’ answers on standardized tests.

“We’re going to prove to you that this defendant knew there was cheating going on and she did nothing about it,” Clint Rucker, an assistant district attorney, said in his opening statement. “Those who told the truth got punished.”

Cotman’s attorney, Benjamin Davis, did not make an opening statement, reserving his time to do so until after the prosecution finishes presenting its case.

“I believe in my client’s innocence,” Davis said afterward. “We believe so far that the state hasn’t proved anything, so I didn’t see a need to give a statement.”

Cotman is standing trial before the other defendants because her attorney requested a speedy trial on the single count of influencing a witness.

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
corgimom
27462
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 05:52 am
1
1
"The 2011 state investigation

"The 2011 state investigation concluded that cheating occurred at 44 schools so educators could avoid losing their jobs and earn bonuses."

That is exactly it, and taxpayers are spending millions of dollars on those useless tests that test nothing. Those tests are a disaster, and yes, there is going to be more cheating, bedause people don't want to lose their jobs, and the way the rules are set up, they have to cheat.

Darby
23557
Points
Darby 08/25/13 - 12:16 pm
2
0
You've seen it before and you'll see it again.

In their never ending drive to improve graduation rates without going back to the basics, our "education" gurus continue to come up with gimmicks in the classroom and new forms of "testing" that prove little or nothing.

Little or nothing that is, except to show that they've mastered the art of "teaching" the test.

There are NO shortcuts to teaching. If we don't return to what worked in the past for years (centuries) in some cases, we will continue to turn out an inferior product.

We need to back away from all the social engineering and politically correct pablum that consumes our school calender and return to what we know works.

We need high school graduates who have a chance to exploit their potential. There is little of that going on now.

SB3
3930
Points
SB3 08/25/13 - 04:20 pm
1
0
"They have to cheat"

Kind of says it all, except...

No, they don't.

SB3
3930
Points
SB3 08/25/13 - 04:23 pm
1
0
You see what our "educators"

You see what our "educators" are willing to teach. That cheating is okay, because you "have to."

Disgusting.

corgimom
27462
Points
corgimom 08/25/13 - 07:12 pm
0
2
SB3, yes, they do, because

SB3, yes, they do, because there is no possible way that every school will post the numbers that are "required". It is statistically impossible. It is physically impossible. Yet the principals are told that their schools MUST make certain percentages in order for them to keep their jobs.

When you give people impossible standards, impossible expectations, impossible rules, and make their jobs dependent on those things, yes, you create a situation where the only way to meet those criteria is to cheat.

SB3
3930
Points
SB3 08/26/13 - 12:11 am
1
0
We'll see how that works as a

We'll see how that works as a defense.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs