Beverly Hall, the former Atlanta superintendent who was nationally lauded for boosting the district’s academic performance—an illusion that was later shattered with the discovery that some of those gains were the results of widespread cheating—has died. She was 68.
Ms. Hall’s death, on March 2, comes as prosecutors in Georgia pursue a raft of criminal charges against 12 former Atlanta educators in connection with alleged cheating—the largest such scandal in recent history—under her watch. The complex, multidefendant trial is expected to enter the closing-argument phase later this month.
She and 34 others were indicted in 2013 on racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with facilitating cheating on Georgia’s state exams, covering it up, and retaliating against those who tried to expose the misdeeds. Many of those who were charged, including Ms. Hall, received performance bonuses based on the improvements, which turned out to be illegitimate.
Ms. Hall, who retired as superintendent in 2011, steadfastly denied any involvement. In a statement released after her death, her legal team said that she had been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, fought her illness with “great courage and dignity,” and never doubted she would have been acquitted.
Prior to the cheating allegations, Ms. Hall was widely respected for her leadership. In 2009, she was named Superintendent of the Year, the highest honor in her field, by the American Association of School Administrators.
A Jamaican immigrant, Hall began her career as a teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y. She later worked as the superintendent in Newark, N.J.—the first to be appointed after the state took over the district—before arriving in Atlanta in 1999.
–Corey Mitchell & Denisa R. Superville
John Mockler, a leading education adviser for four decades who was a principal author of Proposition 98, the law that guarantees California’s public schools a sizable share of the state budget, died March 3 from pancreatic cancer. He was 73.
Called a guru of public school finance, Mr. Mockler held a number of influential posts starting in the early 1970s, when he was a top education adviser in the state Assembly. He later served short stints as education secretary and executive director of the state board of education, and ran his own consulting firm. He left Sacramento in 1977 to become an independent watchdog in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he was an aggressive critic of the district’s budgeting and accounting procedures. More recently, he advised Gov. Jerry Brown.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Mockler joined others in a campaign to protect public schools from the whims of the legislature and stabilize K-12 education funding, through Proposition 98. Voters passed the ballot initiative by a slim margin in 1988.
Vol. 34, Issue 24, Page 5Published in Print: March 18, 2015, as Obituaries