Atlanta Educators Threatened Students Against Reporting Cheating, Jury Told

By Madeline Will — December 12, 2014 1 min read
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As the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial continued into its 10th week, new testimony revealed disturbing ways students were involved in what prosecutors have said was a widespread culture of cheating.

According to an Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter, some elementary school teachers threatened students to keep them from “snitching” about the cheating.

Also, former Dobbs Elementary School teaching coach Lori Revere-Paulk testified that some 4th grade teachers at Dobbs would tell their students things like, “you all just dumb. You can’t learn anything.”

Still, according to testimony, those students would score well on state tests—despite other test results suggesting they would not.

According to the AJC, three former Dobbs educators—principal Dana Evans, 4th grade teacher Angela Williamson, and special education teacher Dessa Curb—are among the dozen educators currently standing trial for their alleged roles in correcting students’ wrong answers on state standardized tests.

Evans has denied participating in, allowing, or knowing of cheating (despite state investigators saying she should have known about it), but accepted responsibility for the cheating at Dobbs, according to the AJC.

“We commend her for accepting responsibility—she is one of the few in (Atlanta Public Schools) to do so,” state investigators wrote.

Earlier this week, testimony revealed that former regional executive director Michael Pitts did not say that he had known about possible cheating when interviewed by a blue ribbon commission.

When cheating was first suspected by the state, an independent blue ribbon commission interviewed educators in the district (later, special investigators and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were appointed by the governor). Over the course of the trial, many former educators have testified that they told Pitts about potential cheating before the cheating was ever publicly suspected.

But an associate with the firm who conducted the interviews testified that Pitts never said he had been warned about cheating, according to the AJC.

Prosecutors plan to rest their case sometime in January, and the AJC is posting regular updates of the long-running trial.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.