The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal that began back in 2009 exposed one of the biggest issues facing teachers today and the requirements of standardized testing. On Tuesday (April 14), nine of 10 convicted educators were given prison time and will serve varying sentences between one to seven years.
At the top of the month, 11 of 12 convicted educators were convicted on racketeering charges. Today, Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter slapped eight of the former APS workers with prison sentences and the trial has been especially explosive reports CNN.
Since the start of the five-month trial, Judge Baxter has been passionate about his desire to send those involved in the scandal convictions to prison. On Monday, Judge Baxter allowed prosecutors to offer plea deals to the accused that would have bypassed possible 20-year sentences but none admitted their guilt or accepted.
As noted by several outlets, the prison sentences, and their length, was not typical of those given out to educators. Two others who were found guilty by a jury earlier in the month accepted deals from the prosecutors and thus lowered their jail times.
For three of the convicted educators, Judge Baxter handed out the 20-year sentence with seven of the two decades that have to be served. Five of the educators were given five-year sentences, and two were given two years. Three others were given just one year. Fines ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 were also doled out.
Judge Baxter did not spare his feelings over the scandal and expressed his thoughts several times through the hearing. Judge Baxter also shared that he didn’t want to send the educators to jail, but couldn’t accept that the cheating potentially upended the futures of the students involved.
“There were thousands of children that were harmed in this thing,” said Judge Baxter.
The case broke open after local publication, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, began investigating Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests scores. The uptick in results was so vast that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation launched a probe. In 2011, the GBI found 44 of 56 schools in the APS system had scores adjusted by teachers and principals.
The incentive to fudge scores was the promise of job promotions and cash bonuses, not unlike many other school districts nationwide who also have quotas to meet regarding testing.
In 2013, a Georgia grand jury indicted 35 educators, including former superintendent Beverly Hall. Hall, who was seen as the center of the entire scandal, died from breast cancer in March of this year.
Photo: AP Photo