Georgia educators in cheating scandal suspended

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 7:45 AM
Last updated 12:01 PM
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ATLANTA - A former DeKalb County principal is banned from Georgia schools for two years and his assistant principal is suspended for a year after the two were involved in a cheating scandal.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which oversees the certification of teachers, voted Thursday to suspend the licenses of former Atherton Elementary principal James Berry and former assistant principal Doretha Alexander.

The commission also voted to investigate at least seven educators in three other elementary schools for their part in what state officials say was a ploy to change students' answers on fifth-grade math tests in summer 2008 to improve their scores and avoid federal sanctions.

"A two-year suspension of your ability to practice your chosen profession is a severe action," said Kelly Henson, executive secretary of the commission.

The suspensions stem from a Governor's Office of Student Achievement audit released in June that revealed the alleged cheating. State officials do not believe students were involved.

After the audit came out, Berry and Alexander were arrested by DeKalb County authorities on charges of tampering with state documents, a felony. The DeKalb County district attorney's office continues to investigate the case but has not yet taken it before a grand jury for indictments.

Berry and Alexander have been free on bond since their June arrests. Their attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.

The suspensions mean neither can work in a Georgia public school system, even as a substitute teacher. Once the suspension has ended, the two can reapply for teaching licenses. They have 30 days to appeal the decision.

The other educators being investigated were at Deerwood Academy in Atlanta, Burroughs-Molette Elementary in Glynn County and Parklane Elementary in Fulton County.

The altered test answer sheets meant the schools made "adequate yearly progress" on federal No Child Left Behind standards. The state Board of Education voted in July to void the tests in question and revoke the schools' federal standing.

Now, the schools may have to return some federal money and at least one will have to offer tutoring and allow parents to transfer students to higher-performing schools.

Atlanta Public Schools officials have questioned the state's results, pointing to the results of an investigation paid for by the district that found the state audit was based on "speculation" and not "concrete" evidence.

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Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 09/10/09 - 11:18 am
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2 year and 1 year suspension

2 year and 1 year suspension over a felony? I wish they would hand those out at my job. Maybe we need more teachers furloughs.

mable8
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mable8 09/11/09 - 04:40 pm
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Why even bother to suspend

Why even bother to suspend these two? They will be teaching in some other state next term...they should have been prosecuted for their felonious acts.

DEVGRU
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DEVGRU 09/11/09 - 06:08 pm
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Georgias#1, they haven't been

Georgias#1, they haven't been convicted yet. Not even indicted. The license suspensions are based on evidence presented to The Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which is in no way connected to law enforcement.

corgimom
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corgimom 09/11/09 - 06:22 pm
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Instead of condemning them,

Instead of condemning them, look at the system that generated this. Here was their choice- cheat or lose their jobs. They were held directly responsible for the scores on tests taken by CHILDREN. How would you like your job to depend on that? How many of you would like your job security based on what elementary schoolchildren, who do not have the maturity or life experience to understand, to decide if you keep your job or not, despite your very best efforts?

giveitsomethought
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giveitsomethought 09/12/09 - 09:37 am
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People still don't understand

People still don't understand why Georgia in next to last in education. South Carolina is in last place

free1992
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free1992 09/12/09 - 11:49 am
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I agree with corgimom. The no

I agree with corgimom. The no child left behind has done incredible damage to our childrens education. Kids today are spending more time testing than taking instruction on the subjects the need to know. This has pushed administrators to worry about what the federal govenment thinks rather than watching teachers and getting rid of the poor performers. Right now we have a massive amount of people out of work with many having advanced degrees. Should we look to these people to become teachers, YES!! Many of them have run corporate training programs that are successful at getting large amounts of information taught in a short time. They are more discipline at getting the job done than someone fresh out of college and can help fix many of the organizational problems in our shool systems. I know a lot of you are saying that some kids will suffer if things are changed. My only question to you, ask your kid to point out Germany on the map and see if they get it right.

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 09/12/09 - 12:17 pm
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it is time for teachers to

it is time for teachers to take a stand, U think it is time for a "sick out" day. Between being forced to work on furlough days, and the added workloads, the over-sized classes and lack of book and supplies for students. It is now that action must be taken to be heard. If all teachers were out on the same day, the school system would come to a halt, bet then someone would look at what is being done to hurt the students and teachers in this county and state. How is it that RCBOE knows what the state is going to do before it is done? RCSS changed the funding option a month OK, to make teachers pay 75% of the their benefits and 25% being paid by the board. NOW with this new disclosure by the state, RCSS employees will be paying 85% of their benefits, plus the forced 6 days furlough, ( while still working the days) We do you say enough is enough? ONE SICK out day, and/ or one class action suit... Its time for either PAGE or GAE to take action and take this to court... call your representative, your board member and demand action.... It is time to fight back... CAN I HEAR SICK OUT on OCT 1st... TIME TO BE HEARD. Check out the article "Georgia raises premiums"

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 09/12/09 - 12:18 pm
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By the way, why is RCBOE

By the way, why is RCBOE continuing to hire at the central office level... Take a look at the last board committee meeting minutes... If we are sooo broke, why create positions, continue to hire, and continue to have unnecessary positions that truly have no purpose.

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