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2 down, 20 to go? Former Atlanta schools chief, 35 others indicted for massive cheating scandal... 'The supposed transformation of Atlanta Public Schools overseen by former Superintendent Beverly Hall resulted from a criminal enterprise that victimized thousands of struggling students for years...'

With the March 29, 2013 indictment of former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly L. Hall as being the lynchpin of a major test cheating scandal, one headline might be "Two down... ten or twenty to go...." The indictment of Hall for masterminding the massive Atlanta cheating, one of the two largest school systems to be hit by such scandals has now been completely exposed. The other where a massive cheating scandal has been completely exposed? Washington, D.C., where the only thing missing to cap and end the career of former D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee is the indictment of Rhee for doing the same things that Beverly Hall did.

The total number of school officials indicted in Atlanta is 35.There are literally dozens of other current and former school chiefs from the test crazed days of the 1990s and early 2000s from across urban America who should be facing charges for the damage they have done to the nation's urban public schools by focusing on test scores (which only reflect wealth or poverty) rather than improving the actual classroom and school learning conditions for the nation's poorest children, most of whom during the years of the cheating were black. Among those who should be answering more grand jury questions in 2013 are former Chicago schools chieftains Arne Duncan and Paul Vallas, and the former chiefs of New York. Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louise, Kansas City, New Orleans (which include, a second time, Vallas), Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and dozens of other towns and cities.

The Atlanta and D.C. scandals are distinguished by a feature that Chicago will never see: investigative reporting aimed at exposing the cheating and frauds of those in power. In the Atlanta case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper did a major expose on the cheating long before the new indictments of Hall and others. In D.C., the lies of Rhee were exposed by U.S.A. Today.

By contrast, Chicago's corporate media have been a full-time cheerleader for each new twitch in the corporate "school reform" campaign, with each lie by each new schools "Chief Executive Officer" blared across the city as fact, often as front page news. As long as the editorial corruption at the top of Chicago's major media (including the TV stations) continues, Chicago's un-indicted former schools chiefs are likely to continue their careers unmolested. The indictment of Beverly Hall and 34 others topped the education news cycle on the day before Easter (see below, a selection of articles), but none of the major stories connected the dots to the U.S. Department of Education's Race To The Top program or its predecessor, No Child Left Behind.

Both are the neoliberal policies of Presidents of the United States -- Race To The Top of Barack Obama and No Child Left Behind of George W. Bush. The three main people who have served as U.S. Secretary of Education since the beginning of the Century should all be investigated for the corruption that followed from their "data driven management" demands on teachers and schools. Not one major urban school official has been exempt from the pressure to utilize test scores as the sole "data" for judging the success of schools and teachers.

In every state, a bunch of rich, usually white people oversee corporate "school reform" and try to force through legislation that results in teacher bashing, union busting, privatization and the kind of cheating that came about in Atlanta. One of the foremost people promoting corporate school reform against Chicago teachers has been millionaire heiress Robin Steans (above) who heads the Astroturf group called "Advance Illinois." Steans is quoted more in the ruling class press than any dozen classroom teachers on "school reform" questions. This is despite the fact that her own brief career as an FNG teacher at Chicago's Sullivan High School was a bleak failure, by any measure. Because of her family connections and wealth, however, instead of simply disappearing from the education scene after crashing and burning as a classroom teacher, Steans became a leader of corporate "reform" punditry. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Since Arne Duncan became the chief education leader of the USA (the first U.S. Secretary of Education who had never taught in a real school, but who won his personal race to the top by virtue of neighborhood connections and basketball ability), the demand has been even greater than before. Since Duncan's installation as a member of the President's Cabinet in January 2009, school closings (and the replacement of real public schools with charter schools), teacher firings, and an escalating scapegoating of "bad teachers" became national policy under the Obama administration.

Although print media coverage of the scandal was widespread on the morning of March 30, neither Chicago daily newspaper ran the story. The reports below begin with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which originally broke the story with its investigative work and followed up until the current indictments.

ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION STORY, SATURDAY MARCH 30, 2013.

Beverly Hall, 34 others indicted in Atlanta schools cheating scandal By Rhonda Cook and Alan Judd. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The supposed transformation of Atlanta Public Schools overseen by former Superintendent Beverly Hall resulted from a criminal enterprise that victimized thousands of struggling students for years, authorities alleged Friday.

Capping a series of investigations that spanned four years, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Hall and 34 others on charges that they conspired to cheat on federally mandated standardized tests from at least 2005 to 2010. Further, the grand jury charged, Hall, several top aides, principals and teachers engaged in the scheme for their own financial gain. And with investigators closing in, the jury said, Hall and others lied to cover up their crimes.

One of the many highly paid mercenaries of corporate "school reform," Beverly Hall (above) could do no wrong in the eyes of Atlanta's Business Roundtable and other corporate heads. But her corrupt administration was finally exposed after two very complex investigations and Hall now stands indicted in the largest test cheating scandal in U.S. history. Like Chicago's Barbara Byrd Bennett and Jean-Claude Brizard, Hall was a mercenary of the corporate school reform national leadership, beginning her career in New York to establish her thin bona fides as a teacher and then taking her show on the road nationwide repeating eternally the script that "all children can learn" and "failure will not be tolerated" behind a smokescreen of test mania. Hall inculcated an atmosphere that encouraged using any means necessary to achieve test-score targets, the indictment said, and then “publicly misrepresented the academic performance of schools throughout APS.” Pressuring subordinates to produce targeted scores, the indictment said, “created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.”

“This is nothing but pervasive and rank thuggery,” said Richard Hyde, one of the special investigators appointed in 2010 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue to delve into what has become the largest academic cheating scandal in U.S. history.

The indictment served as a resounding refutation of Hall’s assertions that Atlanta had found the secret formula that had long eluded educators elsewhere: how to get strong performances from poor, mostly minority students in decaying urban schools. For her efforts, Hall was named the national superintendent of the year in 2009.

Now Hall, 66, faces as much as 45 years in prison. Grand jurors recommended that a judge set her bond at $7.5 million. Authorities gave all the defendants until Tuesday to surrender.

Along with Hall, the grand jury indicted four other former top administrators: Millicent Few, who ran the district’s human resources division, and area supervisors Sharon Davis-Williams, Tamara Cotman and Michael Pitts.

Lawyers for most of the defendants denied the charges and promised to fight in court. Hall’s lawyers, Richard Deane and David Bailey, said in a statement that the former superintendent had no involvement in cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test or “any other wrongdoing.”

“Not a single person,” they said, “reported that Dr. Hall participated in or directed them to cheat on the CRCT.”

The indictment charged Hall and the others with racketeering, theft, making false statements and false swearing. Others named included seven principals, two assistant principals, 14 teachers, five testing coordinators, one instructional coach and even a school secretary. Authorities accused some educators of influencing witnesses by pressuring them to lie to investigators about cheating.

The grand jurors filed the indictment just before 5 p.m. Friday after hearing from witnesses since Wednesday. District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office spent 21 months on the case, capped off the day with a somber news conference, broadcast live on Atlanta television stations, in which he lamented “the crimes that have been committed against the children of the city of Atlanta.”

Beyond the criminal acts it alleged, the indictment revealed the human toll exacted by years of test-score manipulation, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2008.

When a teacher at C.W. Hill Elementary complained about cheating by a colleague in 2005, Hall suspended the accused educator for 20 days. As for the whistle-blower, Hall fired her.

Hall repeatedly ignored or disregarded reports of cheating or other questions about test scores. In 2006, Howard said, Atlanta resident Justina Collins was concerned when her daughter received the lowest score on a benchmark examination in her third-grade reading class — but then, somehow, exceeded reading standards on the CRCT.

Collins managed to get an appointment with Hall, who told her there was no evidence her daughter needed help. She had, after all, done well on the CRCT. “Your daughter is the kind of person who tests well,” Collins said she was told.

Now in the ninth grade, her daughter reads at a fifth-grade level.

‘NO EXCUSES’

Not long after she became Atlanta’s superintendent in 1999, Hall established increasingly tough performance targets for every school that would become progressively more difficult to hit. Her mantra: “No exceptions and no excuses.”

Hall told principals and teachers that falling short was not acceptable. “Their performance was criticized,” the indictment said, “their jobs were threatened, and some were terminated.”

When she told one principal in 2005 that his contract was not being renewed, Hall reportedly said it was because she was “not interested in incremental gains.”

For those who met Hall’s mandates, however, rewards followed — public praise and financial bonuses alike.

Those bonuses are at the heart of the theft charges against Hall and others.

If a school met 70 percent of its annual targets, every employee received a bonus, as low as a few hundred dollars and as high as $1,000 or more.

Moreover, Hall’s annual bonuses depended largely on test scores, the indictment said. Grand jurors specifically accused Hall of qualifying for bonuses in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by certifying test scores “which she knew were false.”

Hall collected bonuses totaling more than $225,000 for those years, on top of a base salary that, by 2009, exceeded $300,000. Altogether, she received bonuses of about $580,000 over 10 years.

TEACHERS ‘COERCED’

Beginning in 2006, according to the indictment, Hall was getting numerous reports about cheating and other irregularities at Parks Middle School, most involving principal Christopher Waller. Staff members had complained that Waller was falsifying student attendance records, among other documents; had sexually harassed women who worked for him; and had pressured teachers to change students’ answers on the CRCT.

A private detective hired by the district reported to Hall in writing and in person, the indictment said, telling her that Waller had “coerced teachers to cheat” and “was threatening and intimidating teachers not to reveal information” about the allegations against him.

Nevertheless, Hall took no action against Waller, whom she had publicly lauded for rapidly boosting Parks’ test scores. And, the indictment said, the allegations didn’t stop her from approving bonuses for Waller and others at the school.

But when investigators asked her about Waller in 2011, the indictment said, Hall denied receiving complaints involving the principal or meeting with the detective — willful lies, the grand jury alleged.

The allegations concerning Parks illustrate several facets of the racketeering case that prosecutors presented to the grand jury.

The conspiracy began when numerous defendants pressured other educators to cheat on the CRCT, the indictment said.

Then, if anyone complained about test manipulation, Hall and others would “interfere with, suppress and obstruct investigations,” according to the indictment. In some instances, grand jurors said, Hall and others refused to investigate cheating reports at all, while in others, they suppressed critical findings by their own investigators.

Finally, the indictment said, Hall and others lied about the cheating cases to state investigators and withheld documents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office.

The indictment offers no evidence that Hall or anyone else laid out a specific scheme for the cheating or the cover-up. Such an agreement is not necessary to establish a conspiracy, said Howard, the district attorney.

“Because there is a single-minded purpose, and that purpose is to cheat to manipulate the grades, what we are alleging is that she was a full participant in that conspiracy,” Howard said. “Without her, the conspiracy could not have taken place.”

RETALIATION ‘RAMPANT’

Secrecy was key to the alleged conspiracy, the grand jury said.

The indictment describes numerous instances in which district officials withheld documents requested by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the state Open Records Act. It also says Hall gave false information to a state official about the district’s investigation of cheating allegations at one school.

Hall and her administrators routinely tamped down cheating allegations, the indictment said, often by simply taking no action. In August 2009, the state Education Department forwarded an anonymous letter to Hall and Few that claimed “retaliation runs rampant” in the district. State officials asked Hall and Few to investigate. Instead, the indictment said, they ignored it.

Hall even lied to groups that supported the district’s efforts to improve performance, the indictment said.

In 2007, it said, Hall met with a representative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation about the organization’s interest in working with Waller at Parks Middle School. Hall said nothing about the multiple complaints about cheating and other improprieties, the indictment said, and allowed the foundation to supplement Waller’s salary.

Later the same year, the indictment said, Hall was interviewed for an article in a Casey foundation publication. Again, the indictment said, she said nothing about irregularities involving Parks, but instead “praised Waller for his leadership.”

Staff writers Wayne Washington, Jeffry Scott, Jaime Sarrio, Nancy Badertscher, Ty Tagami, Lois Norder, James Pelfrey and Leroy Chapman contributed to this story.

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON ATLANTA, ON LINE MARCH 30, 2013

Ex-Schools Chief in Atlanta Is Indicted in Testing Scandal. By Michael Winerip. [Published on line March 29, 2013 and in print March 30, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/ 2013/03/30/us/former-school-chief-in-atlanta-indicted-in-cheating-scandal.html?emc=na&_r=0&pagewanted=all]

During his 35 years as a Georgia state investigator, Richard Hyde has persuaded all sorts of criminals — corrupt judges, drug dealers, money launderers, racketeers — to turn state’s evidence, but until Jackie Parks, he had never tried to flip an elementary school teacher.

In the fall of 2010, Ms. Parks, a third-grade teacher at Venetian Hills Elementary School in southwest Atlanta, agreed to become Witness No. 1 for Mr. Hyde, in what would develop into the most widespread public school cheating scandal in memory.

Ms. Parks admitted to Mr. Hyde that she was one of seven teachers — nicknamed “the chosen” — who sat in a locked windowless room every afternoon during the week of state testing, raising students’ scores by erasing wrong answers and making them right. She then agreed to wear a hidden electronic wire to school, and for weeks she secretly recorded the conversations of her fellow teachers for Mr. Hyde.

In the two and a half years since, the state’s investigation reached from Ms. Parks’s third-grade classroom all the way to the district superintendent at the time, Beverly L. Hall, who was one of 35 Atlanta educators indicted Friday by a Fulton County grand jury.

Dr. Hall, who retired in 2011, was charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors recommended a $7.5 million bond for her; she could face up to 45 years in prison.

During the decade she led the district of 52,000 mainly poor, African-American children, Atlanta students often outperformed wealthier suburban districts on state tests.

Those test scores brought her fame — in 2009, the American Association of School Administrators named her superintendent of the year and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, hosted her at the White House.

And fortune — she earned more than $500,000 in performance bonuses while superintendent.

On Friday, prosecutors essentially said it really was too good to be true. Dr. Hall and the 34 teachers, principals and administrators “conspired to either cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistle-blowers in an effort to bolster C.R.C.T. scores for the benefit of financial rewards associated with high test scores,” the indictment said, referring to the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

Reached late Friday, Richard Deane, Dr. Hall’s lawyer, said they were digesting the indictment and making arrangements for bond. “We’re pretty busy,” he said.

As she has since the beginning, Mr. Deane said, Dr. Hall has denied the charges and any involvement in cheating or any other wrongdoing and expected to be vindicated. “We note that as far as has been disclosed, despite the thousands of interviews that were reportedly done by the governor’s investigators and others, not a single person reported that Dr. Hall participated in or directed them to cheat on the C.R.C.T.,” he said later in a statement.

In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, Dr. Hall said that people under her had allowed cheating but that she never had. “I can’t accept that there is a culture of cheating,” she said.

Paul L. Howard Jr., the district attorney, said that under Dr. Hall’s leadership, there was “a single-minded purpose, and that is to cheat.”

“She is a full participant in that conspiracy,” he said. “Without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree it took place.”

Longstanding Rumors

For years there had been reports of widespread cheating in Atlanta, but Dr. Hall was feared by teachers and principals, and few dared to speak out. “Principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated,” the indictment said.

Reporters for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and state education officials repeatedly found strong indications of cheating — extraordinary increases in test scores from one year to the next, along with a high number of erasures on answering sheets from wrong to right.

But they were not able to find anyone who would confess to it.

That is until August 2010, when Gov. Sonny Perdue named two special prosecutors — Michael Bowers, a Republican former attorney general, and Robert E. Wilson, a Democratic former district attorney — along with Mr. Hyde to conduct a criminal investigation.

For weeks that fall, Mr. Hyde had been stonewalled and lied to by teachers at Venetian Hills including Ms. Parks, who at one point, stood in her classroom doorway and blocked him from entering.

But day after day he returned to question people, and eventually his presence weighed so heavily on Ms. Parks that she said she felt a terrible need to confess her sins. “I wanted to repent,” she recalled in an interview. “I wanted to clear my conscience.”

Ms. Parks told Mr. Hyde that the cheating had been going on at least since 2004 and was overseen by the principal, who wore gloves so as not to leave her fingerprints on the answer sheets.

Children who scored 1 on the state test out of a possible 4 became 2s, she said; 2s became 3s.

“The cheating had been going on so long,” Ms. Parks said. “We considered it part of our jobs.”

She said teachers were under constant pressure from principals who feared they would be fired if they did not meet the testing targets set by the superintendent.

Dr. Hall was known to rule by fear. She gave principals three years to meet their testing goals. Few did; in her decade as superintendent, she replaced 90 percent of the principals.

Teachers and principals whose students had high test scores received tenure and thousands of dollars in performance bonuses. Otherwise, as one teacher explained, it was “low score out the door.”

Ms. Parks, a 17-year veteran, said a reason she had kept silent so long was that as a single mother, she could not afford to lose her job.

When asked during an interview if she was surprised that out of Atlanta’s 100 schools, Mr. Hyde turned up at hers first, Ms. Parks said no. “I had a dream about it a few weeks before,” she said. “I saw people walking down the hall with yellow notepads. From time to time, God reveals things to me in dreams.”

“I think God led Mr. Hyde to Venetian Hills,” she said.

Whatever delivered Mr. Hyde (he said he picked the school because he knew the area from patrolling it as a young police officer), 10 months after his arrival, on June 30, 2011, state investigators issued an 800-page report implicating 178 teachers and principals — including 82 who confessed to cheating.

By now, almost all are gone. Like Ms. Parks, they have resigned or were fired or lost their teaching licenses at administrative hearings.

Higher Scores, Less Aid

Some losses are harder to measure, like the impact on the children in schools where cheating was prevalent. At Parks Middle School, which investigators say was the site of the city’s worst cheating, test scores soared right after the arrival of a new principal, Christopher Waller — who was one of the 35 named in Friday’s indictment.

His first year at Parks, 2005, 86 percent of eighth graders scored proficient in math compared with 24 percent the year before; 78 percent passed the state reading test versus 35 percent the previous year.

The falsified test scores were so high that Parks Middle was no longer classified as a school in need of improvement and, as a result, lost $750,000 in state and federal aid, according to investigators. That money could have been used to give struggling children extra academic support. Stacey Johnson, a Parks teacher, told investigators that she had students in her class who had scored proficient on state tests in previous years but were actually reading on the first-grade level. Cheating masked the deficiencies and skewed the diagnosis.

When Erroll Davis Jr. succeeded Dr. Hall in July 2011, one of his first acts as superintendent was to create remedial classes in hopes of helping thousands of these students catch up.

It is not just an Atlanta problem. Cheating has grown at school districts around the country as standardized testing has become a primary means of evaluating teachers, principals and schools. In El Paso, a superintendent went to prison recently after removing low-performing children from classes to improve the district’s test scores. In Ohio, state officials are investigating whether several urban districts intentionally listed low-performing students as having withdrawn even though they were still in school.

But no state has come close to Georgia in appropriating the resources needed to root it out.

And that is because of former Governor Perdue.

“The more we were stonewalled, the more we wanted to know why,” he said in an interview.

In August 2010, after yet another blue-ribbon commission of Atlanta officials found no serious cheating, Mr. Perdue appointed the two special prosecutors and gave them subpoena powers and a budget substantial enough to hire more than 50 state investigators who were overseen by Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Bowers, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Hyde had spent most of their careers putting criminals in prison, and almost as important, they could write. They produced an investigative report with a narrative that read more like a crime thriller than a sleepy legal document and placed Dr. Hall center stage in a drama of mind-boggling dysfunction.

She had praised Mr. Waller of Parks Middle as one of the finest principals in the city, while Mr. Wilson, the special prosecutor, called him “the worst of the worst.”

According to the report, Mr. Waller held “changing parties” where he stood guarding the door as teachers gathered to erase wrong answers and make them right. “I need the numbers,” he would urge the teachers. “Do what you do.”

(When questioned by investigators, Mr. Waller cited his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.)

Dr. Hall arrived in Atlanta in 1999, the final step in a long upward climb. She had advanced through the ranks of the New York City schools, from teacher to principal to deputy superintendent, and then in 1995, became the superintendent in Newark.

In Atlanta, she built a reputation as a person who got results, understood the needs of poor children and had a strong relationship with the business elite.

Her focus on test scores made her a favorite of the national education reform movement, nearly as prominent as the schools chancellors Joel I. Klein of New York City and Michelle Rhee of Washington. Like them, she was a fearsome presence who would accept no excuses when it came to educating poor children. She held yearly rallies at the Georgia Dome, rewarding principals and teachers from schools with high test scores by seating them up front, close to her, while low scorers were shunted aside to the bleachers.

But she was also known as someone who held herself aloof from parents, teachers and principals. The district spent $100,000 a year for a security detail to drive her around the city. At public meetings, questions had to be submitted beforehand for screening.

In contrast, her successor, Mr. Davis, drives himself and his home phone number is listed.

As long ago as 2001, Journal-Constitution reporters were writing articles questioning test scores under Dr. Hall, but when they requested interviews they were rebuffed. Heather Vogell, an investigative reporter, said officials took months responding to her public information requests — if they did at all. “I’d call, leave a message, call again, no one would pick up,” she said.

Community Pressure

What made Dr. Hall just about untouchable was her strong ties to local business leaders. Atlanta prides itself in being a progressive Southern city when it comes to education, entrepreneurship and race — and Dr. Hall’s rising test scores were good news on all those fronts. She is an African-American woman who had turned around a mainly poor African-American school district, which would make Atlanta an even more desirable destination for businesses.

And so when Mr. Perdue challenged the test results that underpinned everything — even though he was a conservative Republican businessman — he met strong resistance from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

“There was extensive subtle pressure,” Mr. Perdue said. “They’d say, ‘Do you really think there is anything there? We have to make sure we don’t hurt the city.’ Good friends broke with me over this.”

“I was dumbfounded that the business community would not want the truth,” he said. “These would be the next generation of employees, and companies would be looking at them and wondering why they had graduated and could not do simple skills. Business was insisting on accountability, but they didn’t want real accountability.”

Once the special prosecutors’ report was made public, it did not matter what the business community wanted; the findings were so sensational, there was no turning back.

Ms. Parks of Venetian Hills was one of many who wore a concealed wire for Mr. Hyde.

As he listened to the hours of secretly recorded conversations of cheating teachers and principals, he was surprised. “I heard them in unguarded moments,” Mr. Hyde said. “You listen, they’re good people. Their tone was of men and women who cared about kids.”

“Every time I play those tapes, I get furious about the way Beverly Hall treated these people,” he said.

Another important source for him at Venetian Hills was Milagros Moner, the testing coordinator. “A really fine person,” Mr. Hyde said. “Another single mom under terrible pressure.”

Ms. Moner told Mr. Hyde that she carried the tests in a tote bag to the principal, Clarietta Davis, who put on gloves before touching them.

After school, on Oct. 18, 2010, the two women sat in the principal’s car in the parking lot of a McDonald’s. Inside Ms. Moner’s purse was a tape recorder Mr. Hyde had given her. Thirty yards away, he sat in his pickup truck videotaping as they talked about how the investigation and media coverage had taken over their lives.

Ms. Moner: I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, my kids want to talk to me, I ignore them. ... I don’t have the mental energy. ...

Ms. Davis: You wouldn’t believe how people just look at you. People you know.

Ms. Moner: You feel isolated.

Ms. Davis: There’s no one to talk to. ... See how red my eyes are? And I’m not a drinking woman.

Ms. Moner: It has taken over my life. I don’t even want to go to work. I pray day and night, I pray at work.

Ms. Davis: You just have to pray for everybody.

Later, when investigators tried to question Ms. Davis about her reasons for wearing the gloves, she invoked the Fifth Amendment. On Friday, she was one of the 35 indicted.

Kim Severson and Robbie Brown contributed reporting from Atlanta.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 29, 2013. An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of the president of Caveon Test Security, a forensic data analysis firm. He is John Fremer, not John Caveon.

A version of this article appeared in print on March 30, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: 35 Indicted in Test Scandal at Atlanta Schools.

ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY BELOW HERE: The following article was circulated by the Associated Press on March 30, 2013.

Former Atlanta Schools Chief Indicted In Cheating Scandal, By KATE BRUMBACK 03/29/13 07:30 PM ET EDT ATLANTA — In another embarrassing blow to Atlanta public schools, nearly three dozen former educators, including the ex-superintendent, were indicted Friday in one of the nation's largest test cheating scandals.

Former Superintendent Beverly Hall faced charges including racketeering, false statements and theft because prosecutors said some of the bonuses she received were tied to falsified scores.

Hall retired just days before a state probe was released in 2011. She has long denied knowing about the cheating or ordering it.

During a news conference Friday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard provided examples of two students who demonstrated "the plight of many children" in the Atlanta school system. He described a third-grader who failed a benchmark exam and received the worst score in her reading class in 2006. The girl was held back, yet when she took a separate assessment test not long after, she passed with flying colors.

Howard said the girl's mother, Justina Collins, knew something was awry, but was told by school officials that the child simply was a good test-taker. The girl is now in ninth grade, reading at a fifth-grade level.

"I have a 15-year-old now who is behind in achieving her goal of becoming what she wants to be when she graduates. It's been hard trying to help her catch up," Collins said.

The criminal investigation lasted 21 months and the allegations date back to 2005. In addition to Hall, 34 people were indicted: four high-level administrators, six principals; two assistant principals; six testing coordinators; 14 teachers; a school improvement specialist and a school secretary.

All of the people named in the indictment face conspiracy charges. Other charges in the 65-count indictment include false statements and writings, false swearing, theft and influencing witnesses.

The investigation involved at least 50 schools as well as hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students. The district has about 50,000 students.

Howard would not directly answer a question about whether Hall led the conspiracy.

"What we're saying is that without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place," he said. "It would not have taken place if her actions had not made that possible."

Hall faces up to 45 years in prison, Howard said.

Richard Deane, an attorney for Hall, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The tests were the key measure the state used to determine whether it met the federal No Child Left Behind law. Schools with good test scores get extra federal dollars to spend in the classroom or on teacher bonuses.

It wasn't immediately clear how much bonus money Hall received. Howard did not say and the amount wasn't mentioned in the indictment.

"Those results were caused by cheating. ... And the money that she received, we are alleging that money was ill-gotten," Howard said.

The previous state investigation in 2011 found cheating by nearly 180 educators in 44 Atlanta schools. Educators gave answers to students or changed answers on tests after they were turned in, investigators said. Teachers who tried to report it faced retaliation, creating a culture of "fear and intimidation" in the district.

State schools Superintendent John Barge said last year he believed the state's new accountability system would remove the pressure to cheat on standardized tests because it won't be the sole way the state determines student growth. The pressure was part of what some educators in Atlanta Public Schools blamed for their cheating.

Hall served as superintendent for more than a decade, which is rare for an urban schools chief. She was named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009 and credited with raising student test scores and graduation rates, particularly among the district's poor and minority students. But the award quickly lost its luster as her district became mired in the scandal.

In a video message to schools staff before she retired, Hall warned that the state investigation launched by former Gov. Sonny Perdue would likely reveal "alarming" behavior.

"It's become increasingly clear that a segment of our staff chose to violate the trust that was placed in them," Hall said. "There is simply no excuse for unethical behavior and no room in this district for unethical conduct. I am confident that aggressive, swift action will be taken against anyone who believed so little in our students and in our system of support that they turned to dishonesty as the only option."

The cheating came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.

Most of the 178 educators named in the special investigators' report in 2011 resigned, retired, did not have their contracts renewed or appealed their dismissals and lost. Twenty-one educators have been reinstated and three await hearings to appeal their dismissals, said Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Stephen Alford.

Superintendent Erroll Davis said the district was focused on nurturing an ethical environment, providing quality education and supporting the employees who were not implicated.

"I know that our children will succeed when the adults around them work hard, work together, and do so with integrity," he said in a statement.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is responsible for licensing teachers and has been going through the complaints against teachers, said commission executive secretary Kelly Henson. Of the 159 cases the commission has reviewed, 44 resulted in license revocations, 100 got two-year suspensions and nine were suspended for less than two years, Henson said. No action was taken against six of the educators.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE REPORTS THE STORY:

The Tribune ignored the story, just as it has ignored Chicago scandals that show the true face of "data driven management".

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES ALSO IGNORES THE STORY...

On March 30, the Sun-Times ran the following trivial stories and a couple of more puff piece for Rahm Emanuel...

AMERICA ONLINE MAJOR STORY SUNDAY.

Atlanta cheating scandal rocks the nation. Lead story, Easter Sunday (March 31, 2013).

The corruption exposed in Atlanta under Beverly Hall began under the federal "No Child Left Behind" policy of the administration of George W. Bush and continued under the Obama administration under Arne Duncan's "Race to the top" eugenics approach to corporate "Education Reform." Duncan's signature policy of closing "failing schools" based on bogus tests -- and forcing massive charterization -- has spawned the most corrupt public school systems in U.S. History.ATLANTA -- Juwanna Guffie was sitting in her fifth-grade classroom taking a standardized test when, authorities say, the teacher came around offering information and asking the students to rewrite their answers. Juwanna rejected the help.

"I don't want your answers, I want to take my own test," Juwanna told her teacher, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

On Friday, Juwanna – now 14 – watched as Fulton County prosecutors announced that a grand jury had indicted the Atlanta Public Schools' ex-superintendent and nearly three dozen other former administrators, teachers, principals and other educators of charges arising from a standardized test cheating scandal that rocked the system.

Former Superintendent Beverly Hall faces charges including conspiracy, making false statements and theft because prosecutors said some of the bonuses she received were tied to falsified scores. Hall retired just days before the findings of a state probe were released in mid-2011. A nationally known educator who was named Superintendent of the Year in 2009, Hall has long denied knowing about the cheating or ordering it.

During a news conference Friday, Howard highlighted the case of Juwanna and another student, saying they demonstrated "the plight of many children" in the Atlanta school system.

Their stories were among many that investigators heard in hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students during a 21-month-long investigation.

According to Howard, Juwanna said that when she declined her teacher's offer, the teacher responded that she was just trying to help her students. Her class ended up getting some of the highest scores in the school and won a trophy for their work. Juwanna felt guilty but didn't tell anyone about her class' cheating because she was afraid of retaliation and feared her teacher would lose her job.

She eventually told her sister and later told the district attorney's investigators. Still confident in her ability to take a test on her own, Juwanna got the highest reading score on a standardized test this year.

The other student cited by Howard was a third-grader who failed a benchmark exam and received the worst score in her reading class in 2006. The girl was held back, yet when she took a separate assessment test not long afterward, she passed with flying colors.

Howard said the girl's mother, Justina Collins, knew something was wrong, but was told by school officials that the child simply was a good test-taker. The girl is now in ninth grade, reading at a fifth-grade level.

"I have a 15-year-old now who is behind in achieving her goal of becoming what she wants to be when she graduates. It's been hard trying to help her catch up," Collins said at the news conference.

The allegations date back to 2005. In addition to Hall, 34 other former school system employees were indicted. Four were high-level administrators, six were principals, two were assistant principals, six were testing coordinators and 14 were teachers. A school improvement specialist and a school secretary were also indicted.

Howard didn't directly answer a question about whether prosecutors believe Hall led the conspiracy.

"What we're saying is, is that without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree that it took place. Because as we know, this took place in 58 of the Atlanta Public Schools. And it would not have taken place if her actions had not made that possible," the prosecutor said.

Richard Deane, an attorney for Hall, told The New York Times that Hall continues to deny the charges and expects to be vindicated. Deane said the defense was making arrangements for bond.

"We note that as far as has been disclosed, despite the thousands of interviews that were reportedly done by the governor's investigators and others, not a single person reported that Dr. Hall participated in or directed them to cheat on the C.R.C.T.," he said later in a statement provided to the Times.

The tests were the key measure the state used to determine whether it met the federal No Child Left Behind law. Schools with good test scores get extra federal dollars to spend in the classroom or on teacher bonuses.

It wasn't immediately clear how much bonus money Hall received. Howard did not say and the amount wasn't mentioned in the indictment.

"Those results were caused by cheating. ... And the money that she received, we are alleging that money was ill-gotten," Howard said.

A 2011 state investigation found cheating by nearly 180 educators in 44 Atlanta schools. Educators gave answers to students or changed answers on tests after they were turned in, investigators said. Teachers who tried to report it faced retaliation, creating a culture of "fear and intimidation," the investigation found.

State schools Superintendent John Barge said last year he believed the state's new accountability system would remove the pressure to cheat on standardized tests because it won't be the sole way the state determines student growth. The pressure was part of what some educators in the system blamed for their cheating.

A former top official in the New York City school system who later headed the Newark, N.J. system for three years, Hall served as Atlanta's superintendent for more than a decade, which is rare for an urban schools chief. She was named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009 and credited with raising student test scores and graduation rates, particularly among the district's poor and minority students. But the award quickly lost its luster as her district became mired in the scandal.

In a video message to schools staff before she retired in the summer of 2011, Hall warned that the state investigation launched by former Gov. Sonny Perdue would likely reveal "alarming" behavior.

"It's become increasingly clear that a segment of our staff chose to violate the trust that was placed in them," Hall said. "There is simply no excuse for unethical behavior and no room in this district for unethical conduct. I am confident that aggressive, swift action will be taken against anyone who believed so little in our students and in our system of support that they turned to dishonesty as the only option."

The cheating came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.

Most of the 178 educators named in the special investigators' report in 2011 resigned, retired, did not have their contracts renewed or appealed their dismissals and lost. Twenty-one educators have been reinstated and three await hearings to appeal their dismissals, said Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Stephen Alford.

APS Superintendent Erroll Davis said the district, which has about 50,000 students, is now focused on nurturing an ethical environment, providing quality education and supporting the employees who were not implicated.

"I know that our children will succeed when the adults around them work hard, work together, and do so with integrity," he said in a statement.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is responsible for licensing teachers and has been going through the complaints against teachers, said commission executive secretary Kelly Henson. Of the 159 cases the commission has reviewed, 44 resulted in license revocations, 100 got two-year suspensions and nine were suspended for less than two years, Henson said. No action was taken against six of the educators.

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