(UPDATED AT 3:35 P.M. WEDNESDAY WITH INFO THAT ALL SUSPECTS HAD TURNED THEMSELVES IN)
In an email update to the media Wednesday afternoon, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan wrote all of the 35 former Atlanta Public Schools employees indicted Friday in the district’s test cheating scandal had turned themselves in.
All of the defendants were supposed to turn themselves in to the Fulton County Jail by Tuesday. Wednesday, Luscious Brown, Willie Davenport, Clarietta Davis and Lera Middlebrooks turned themselves in, and the other 31 suspects turned themselves in Tuesday or earlier. Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall, who has been charged with three counts, turned herself in Tuesday and posted $200,000 bond and was released.
In a news release, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office announced Friday a Fulton grand jury has returned indictments against former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 district employees in connection with a test cheating scandal.
Each of the defendants is charged with Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) conspiracy. The 65-count indictment also includes charges of false statements and writings, false swearing, theft by taking and influencing witnesses in connection with the alleged conspiracy to alter Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) scores. Hall is charged with false statements and writing under the Georgia RICO Act, false swearing and theft by taking.
The district attorney’s 21-month criminal investigation follows a 2011 probe initiated by the governor’s office into testing irregularities and cheating allegations on 2008-09 CRCT exams in dozens of district elementary schools.
The district attorney’s office created a special unit of prosecutors and investigators to explore potential criminal activity connected with the allegations. The investigation included a review of testing activity associated with at least 50 district schools as well as hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students.
Prosecutors allege the 35 named defendants conspired to either cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistle-blowers in an effort to bolster CRCT scores for the benefit of financial rewards associated with high test scores. The alleged activity dates back to as early as 2005.
In addition to Hall, the indicted defendants include four high-level executive administrators, six principals, two assistant principals, six testing coordinators, 14 teachers, a school improvement specialist and a school secretary.
Grand jury warrants have been issued for the arrest of each defendant. The case will now be assigned to a Fulton County Superior Court judge and scheduled for trial.
None of the Buckhead schools were implicated in the scandal.
Information: visit http://www.atlantada.org/pr_032913-1.php or www.fultonsheriff.org.