In the largest cheating scandals to hit the US public education system,35 Atlanta public schools educators and administrators have been indicted on charges of large-scale racketeering and corruption.
Among those indicted by a Fulton County jury was Beverly Hall,the former schools superintendent who gained national recognition in 2009 for turning around Atlantas school system. She was a full participant in that conspiracy, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. Without her,this conspiracy could not have taken place,particularly in the degree in which it took place, he said.
Among those also indicted were four of Halls executive administrators,six principals,two assistant principals,six testing coordinators,14 teachers,a school improvement specialist and a school secretary.
Prosecutors allege that they conspired to either cheat,conceal cheating or retaliate against whistle-blowers in an effort to bolster Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) scores for the benefit of financial rewards.
The indictment,released on Friday,follows a state probe that was launched after a series of reports by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper found large,unexplained gains in test scores in some Atlanta schools.
Hall has denied any role in the scandal. She resigned from her position in 2011 following the state probe,which lambasted her leadership and found widespread cheating in dozens of Atlanta schools.
According to the indictment report,the cheating is believed to date back to 2001 when standardised testing scores began to turn around in the district.
Between 2005 and 2009,test answers were altered,fabricated and falsely certified,the indictment said. Hall allegedly oversaw a system where threats and intimidation were used against teachers,it said.
According to the indictment,Hall placed unreasonable goals on educators and protected and rewarded those who achieved targets by cheating. At the heart of the conspiracy to cheat,the indictment said,was money.