APS Cheating Scandal

Atlanta Public Schools
4:51 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Cheating Trial Underway with Jury Selection Process

Prosecutors and defense attorneys prepare for pre-trial arguments.
Kent D. Johnson/The Atlanta Journal Constitution

The first group of prospective jurors for the upcoming Atlanta schools cheating trial arrived at Fulton County Superior Court today.

The final twelve jurors and eleven alternates will come from over a thousand initially summoned.

WABE’s Rose Scott reports, the trial of the twelve former APS educators could be lengthy and expensive.

In courtroom 1C, which is called a ceremonial courtroom, the first set of potential jurors was given a questionnaire.

And they were also given a procedural speech by Judge Jerry Baxter which included instructions to be on time.

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Local
6:00 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Judge Hears Arguments On APS Judge's Possible Recusal

A Fulton County judge Monday heard arguments on whether the presiding judge in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial should recuse himself from the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua is now weighing the arguments concerning Judge Jerry Baxter.

Attorneys for the 13 remaining APS defendants argue Baxter wrongly contacted the Court of Appeals in order to sway the outcome of a motion filed by defendant Tamara Cotman. They also allege Baxter wrongly defended his actions to the media after the calls were made known to the defense. 

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:10 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Judge Denies Motion in APS Cheating Case

Fulton County prosecutors used this an example of how scanners of standardized tests can detect erasure marks. Defense attorneys wanted items like this thrown out as evidence.
Credit Rose Scott / WABE News

There’s analysis of erasures on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test that’s tied to the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

Should that analysis be part of the evidence in the court trial against defendants including former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall?

Defense lawyers today argued no. But, the Fulton County Superior Court Judge in the case denied the defense motion.

For Friday’s 5:44 segment with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer, WABE’s Rose Scott talked about arguments in court and the judge’s ruling.

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Local
6:01 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Judge Delays Dr. Beverly Hall's Trial

Dr. Laura Weakland, Dr. Hall's oncologist, testified Monday in Fulton County Superior Court.
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A Fulton County Superior Court judge Monday granted a 4 month delay in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial against former superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall. That means the trial will start in August instead of this month. Attorneys for Hall called for a delay due to Hall’s medical condition. She has Stage IV breast cancer.

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Developing
4:23 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Judge Postpones Beverly Hall's Trial Until August Due To Health Concerns

Dr. Beverly Hall
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

TWEETS FROM THE COURTROOM: After a hearing where he heard competing views of Dr. Beverly Hall's health, Judge Jerry Baxter ruled that he will delay the trial of Dr. Hall until August because of her health.

Dr. Hall's oncologist, Dr. Laura Weakland of Georgia Cancer Specialists, testified about Dr. Hall's health at the request of Judge Baxter.  Dr. Hall has been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, and her lawyers had requested a delay of her trial.

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Atlanta Public Schools
5:15 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lawyer for Beverly Hall Reiterates Request for Trial Delay

Richard Deane, attorney for Beverly Hall, discussing the case with reporters this afternoon.
Josh Pate

Web Exclusive:

Today, reporters talked to one of the attorneys representing former Atlanta Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.

Hall is arguably the highest profile defendant in the Atlanta schools cheating court case.

In a motion filed yesterday, Hall’s attorneys had asked the trial be delayed by 6-8 months because of Hall’s treatment for Stage IV breast cancer.

Attorney Richard Deane talked about that motion today in a press conference.

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BREAKING
6:13 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Attorneys In Atlanta Test Cheating Case Seek Delay

WABE's Denis O'Hayer (left) talks with WABE's Rose Scott about breaking news in the Atlanta schools cheating trial
Credit Charles Edwards / WABE News

Attorneys for former Atlanta Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall have asked a Fulton County Superior Court Judge to move the Atlanta schools test cheating trial.

Jury selection has always been scheduled for April 28th. But today, Hall’s attorneys asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Judge Jerry Baxter to delay the trial until after the conclusion of Hall’s current medical regimen.

In an affidavit, an oncologist for Dr. Hall said the former Superintendent has stage 4 breast cancer. The oncologist also said that cancer is not curable but treatable.

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Atlanta Public Schools
5:49 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Likely New Atlanta Superintendent Talks Atlanta Cheating Scandal

If approved by the school board, Dr. Meria Carstarphen assumes a number of challenges including the most notable one, the cheating scandal.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

The lone finalist to become the next Atlanta Public Schools superintendent met with Governor Nathan Deal and then with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Friday.

If approved by the school board, Dr. Meria Carstarphen assumes a number of challenges including the most notable one.

That means rebounding from one of the darkest moments for APS.

Dr. Carstarphen was asked to reflect on what was called the nation’s largest cheating scandal.

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:30 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Amid Preparations For APS Trial, Dr. Hall's Lawyer Reveals She Has Cancer

In this file photo from earlier this year, Dr. Beverly Hall attends a hearing with attorney Richard
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The presiding judge in the case against Atlanta educators in the cheating scandal wants everyone to be ready when the trial begins.

Fulton County Superior Court judge Jerry Baxter made it clear today during a status hearing where some of the remaining defendants were in attendance.

Former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall was not in court today.  

WABE’s Rose Scott reports on the news revealed about the former school chief.

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Developing
11:39 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Dr. Beverly Hall Battling Stage IV Cancer

Dr. Beverly Hall
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

BREAKING -- WABE's Rose Scott has learned from a lawyer for Dr. Beverly Hall that his client is suffering from Stage IV cancer and is "gravely ill."

[Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Dr. Hall's lawyer had made this statement in court.  WABE regrets the error.]

Stage IV cancer is described by the National Cancer Institute as meaning that "the cancer has spread to distant tissues or organs."

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A Report from WABE's Rose Scott
7:44 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Former APS Principal Pleads Guilty, Apologizes in Cheating Case

Former Parks Middle School principal Christopher Waller reads his apology in Fulton County Superior Court on February 21, 2014.
Credit Rose Scott/WABE News

  Friday, February 21, 2014 was the deadline day for 15 remaining Atlanta educators indicted in the cheating scandal, to enter negotiated pleas.  But only two agreed to deals.  Both had worked at Parks Middle School.  Former principal Christopher Waller and former testing coordinator Sandra Ward are expected to testify for the prosecution.  Of the two, Waller faced more serious charges.  He followed his plea with an emotional apology in open court.  WABE's Rose Scott was there, and she talked about the day's events with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

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Education
6:50 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Two Atlanta Educators Agree to Negotiated Plea Deals

Christopher Waller read his letter of apology to the court.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

Today was the final deadline for the fifteen remaining indicted Atlanta educators to enter negotiated pleas.

Christopher Waller and Sandra Ward agreed to a deal and will now testify for the state.

Both worked at Parks Middle School.

WABE’s Rose Scott and Michelle report on the plea deals.

Parks Middle School located in southwest Atlanta had been a low-performing school.

Nearly 90 percent of its students were on the free lunch program and many were living at or below the poverty line.

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The 5:44 with Denis O'Hayer
7:59 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

A Look at Pre-Trial Moves in the APS Cheating Case, with Former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, now a partner in the Atlanta office of Schiff Hardin
Credit Schiff Hardin

  Friday, February 21, 2014 is the deadline for defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal case to decide whether they want to make plea deals with the prosecution, or go to trial.  Days before, prosecutors reached a deal with former human resources chief Millicent Few, one of the top-ranking officials under indictment.  Few is expected to testify that she witnessed criminal acts by then-superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.  Hall's attorneys strongly deny she did anything wrong, and say she expects to clear her name at trial.

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Atlanta Public Schools
9:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Former Atlanta Schools Executive Enters Plea, Will Testify For State

The district attorney's office says Few will testify against her former boss, APS superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.
Credit WABE

On Monday, Millicent Few, the former human resources director of the Atlanta Public Schools, agreed to a plea deal with the Fulton County District attorney’s office.

"I  just want to sincerely apologize to the citizens of Atlanta and specifically the students and their parents for my role in this matter. It’s taken a toll on my family, my support network and myself. I just want to apologize to them and I look forward to hopefully moving on with my life.”  

Few has agreed to testify on behalf of the state in its case against former APS superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:02 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Former Educators Enter Into Plea Agreements, Will Testify For State

Starlette Mitchell with attorney Ruth McMullin.
WABE 90.1 FM/Scott

Today five former Atlanta Public Schools educators and one former secretary entered into a plea agreement with the state.

They were part of the original thirty-five indicted on charges related to test cheating in APS.

We have two reports on today’s court proceedings from WABE’s Michelle Wirth and Rose Scott.

62-year old Clarietta Davis is the former principal of Venetian Hills Elementary School.

During the state ordered investigation, some teachers at the school confessed to cheating, but Davis initially refused to answer any questions.

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"The 5:44" with Denis O'Hayer
7:55 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

APS Cheating Case Defendant Rejects Plea Deal Offer: A Talk with Her Defense Attorney, Page Pate

Page Pate, attorney for Atlanta Public Schools cheating case defendant Sandra Ward.
Credit The Pate Law Firm

  With time running short before a trial begins, some of the 35 defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case are negotiating with Fulton County prosecutors on possible plea deals.  One defendant, Lisa Terry, has admitted to making false statements; she received 12 months' probation.  But on Thursday, December 12, 2013, another defendant rejected a plea offer.  Sandra Ward is the former testing coordinator at Parks Middle School.  Her attorney, Page Pate, spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:26 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Attorney For Indicted Educator: Trying All at Once "Unconstitutional"

Earlier this year, Brian Steel argued on behalf of all the defendants to have the indictment thrown out.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

If all thirty-four defendants facing racketeering charges related to the Atlanta cheating scandal are tried at once, it will be history making and unconstitutional.

That’s according to an attorney representing one of the educators.

The remaining defendants include Dr. Luscious Brown, the former principal of Kennedy Middle School.

He’s charged with racketeering, making false statements and making false writings.

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Local
6:40 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Atlanta Educators To Be Tried All at Once

Another location other than the Fulton County Courthouse would be needed in order to try all 34 defendants at once.
Credit Fulton County Superior Court

The trial for the 34 remaining indicted Atlanta Educators isn't scheduled to begin until next spring, but the judge has told the defendants all will be tried at once.

WABE’s Rose Scott has more. 

Earlier this year during pre-trial hearings for the case, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter joked the trial might be held in a grocery story due to the large number of defendants.

This week Baxter made it clear all would be tried at once.

And he suggested taking plea deals for those not wanting to be tried with the others.

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"The 5:44" with Denis O'Hayer
8:23 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Tamara Cotman Acquitted: A Conversation with Jury Foreman Greg Pollock

Jury foreman Greg Pollock (right) and fellow juror Ben Emerson speak to reporters outside the Fulton County Courthouse following the acquittal of former Atlanta Public Schools executive director Tamara Cotman on charges of influencing a witness.
Credit Rose Scott/WABE News

On Friday, September 6, 2013, after nearly 3 weeks of testimony, a Fulton County jury found former Atlanta Public Schools executive director Tamara Cotman not guilty on charges of influencing a witness.  

Cotman was accused of pressuring school administrators not to cooperate with the GBI investigation into cheating at APS.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with jury foreman Greg Pollock.

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Verdict in Tamara Cotman Trial
11:11 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Jury Finds First Defendant Related to APS Cheating Scandal Not Guilty

Former APS administrator Tamara Cotman leaves the courthouse after being found not guilty of influencing a witness.
Credit Rose Scott / WABE News

The first defendant connected to Atlanta's school cheating scandal has been found not guilty on a single count of influencing a witness. The verdict from the Fulton County Superior Court jury came late Friday morning.

 Tamara Cotman was a school administrator who oversaw 21 schools in Atlanta. She and 33 others still face charges of racketeering.

The acquittal comes after a three-week trial as prosecutors are still preparing for the racketeering cases.

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"The 5:44" with Denis O'Hayer
7:29 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

An APS Cheating Trial without Dr. Beverly Hall? Analysis with WABE Legal Analyst Page Pate

WABE legal analyst Page Pate, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney
Credit The Pate Law Firm

  Former Atlanta School Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall is at the center of the upcoming racketeering trial of 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators.  But now her attorneys confirm that Dr. Hall suffers from breast cancer.  That raises the question of whether she will ever go to trial.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with WABE legal analyst Page Pate, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney, about how the cases of her co-defendants might be affected if Dr. Hall does not go to trial.

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:20 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Tamara Cotman Case Goes to Jury

Judge Jerry Baxter is presiding over Tamara Cotman's trial.
Credit Fulton County Superior Court

Jury deliberations ended today with no verdict in the trial of former Atlanta Public Schools executive director Tamara Cotman.

She’s accused of influencing a witness while the state investigated cheating within the school system.

Earlier today, the prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments inside Fulton County Superior Court.

It was a glaring difference between the defense and the state during the closing arguments today, beginning with Tamara Cotman’s attorney Benjamin Davis.

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:38 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

APS Superintendent Davis Called to Testify in Cotman Trial; Prosecution Rests

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis testified for the prosecution today in the trial of former APS executive director Tamara Cotman.
Credit Atlanta Public Schools

Today, before the prosecution rested its case against former Atlanta Public Schools executive director Tamara Cotman, current APS superintendent Erroll Davis was called to testify.

Cotman is a former executive director in APS and stands accused of influencing a witness during the state’s investigation into cheating.

WABE’s Rose Scott has more on today’s court proceedings:

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Atlanta Public Schools
6:47 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Former Governor Takes Stand in Trial Against Atlanta Educator

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue testified as to why he kept pushing for an investigation into cheating within the Atlanta Public Schools.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

The prosecution continued to lay out the details as to why the state had to conduct an investigation in the first place.

The first person on the stand was former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue.

Becoming emotional, Purdue testified as to why he signed an executive order to pursue the cheating. Perdue was asked if there was a political agenda involved as to why he kept pushing for an investigation.

The former Republican governor said no and even lost friendships over it.

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Atlanta Public Schools
7:03 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

First Trial Related to Atlanta Cheating Scandal Begins

Former executive director of the Governors Office of Student Achievement, Kathleen Mathers points out the schools in Tamara Cotman's region that had a high wrong to right erasure percentage on the 2009 CRCT.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

The first day in the trial for a former APS executive director has wrapped up.

Earlier this year, Tamara Cotman was among the initial 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators indicted on charges that included acts of racketeering and theft by taking.

But in June, Cotman and three others were indicted on additional charges of influencing potential witnesses.

Cotman’s attorney asked for a speedy trial related to the second indictment.

Friday, August 23rd  the state began presenting its evidence against Cotman.

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Local
6:27 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Motions to Dismiss APS Indictments Summarily Dismissed

Judge Jerry Baxter
Credit Fulton County Superior Court

In a surprise ruling this afternoon, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter denied four motions to dismiss the indictments (or parts of the indictments) involving former Atlanta Public Schools educators.

At issue is whether or not educators were coerced to give answers to investigators.  This question pivoted on so-called Garrity warnings

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Local
6:55 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Legal Analysis of Pre-trial Motions Regarding Atlanta Educators

WABE legal analyst Page Pate.
Credit The Pate Law Firm

It could be another week before Fulton Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter rules on a motion that the 35 indicted Atlanta educators were compelled to make statements in the state’s cheating investigation.

These are the statements which the Fulton County District Attorney’s office plans to use in the criminal case.

Tuesday Judge Baxter indicated he was leaning toward ruling in favor of the defendants.

What it comes down to is whether or not the statements made by the educators fall under the 1967 Supreme Court ruling based on the case Garrity vs. New Jersey.

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Local
3:45 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Judge Indicates He May Decide In Favor of Atlanta Educators

Brian Steel, defense attorney for former APS administrator Dr. Luscious Brown.
Credit Rose Scott/WABE

The presiding judge in the indictment of the 35 former Atlanta educators strongly hinted at how he’ll rule on a key motion in the case.  As WABE’s Rose Scott reports, it may not be in favor of the prosecution.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter’s ruling will be based on a couple of issues:

First:  Were APS educators threatened with loss of employment if they didn’t cooperate with the state’s cheating investigation led by Mike Bowers, Bob Wilson and Richard Hyde?

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Local
11:11 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Court Hearing Continues Over Challenge to APS Indictments

Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers testified about the investigation into cheating on test results at the Atlanta Public Schools that led to the indictment of 35 former APS teachers and administrators
Credit Photo: Balch & Bingham LLP

Later this morning a hearing will continue regarding a challenge to the indictment of 35 former Atlanta Public School educators.

It stems from the state’s investigation into cheating which led to the 65-count indictment.

Monday, after a full day of arguments and testimony, the presiding judge left the prosecution with a stinging statement. 

WABE’s Rose Scott has more:

Over the seven hours, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter allowed a 45-minute lunch break and a quick 10-minute stretch-your-legs break.

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Local
5:49 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Motions To Dismiss APS Indictments Argued in Court

Judge Jerry Baxter heard arguments today calling for the dismissal of the charges against the 35 educators charged with involvement in the APS test cheating scandal.
Credit Fulton County Superior Court

Motions challenging the indictment of 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators began today. Attorneys for the defendants as well as the prosecution argued their sides to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.

Each defendant has different motions, but all of the defendants have joined in to simply get the indictment thrown out.

One argument is that the indictment was a product of an unlawful investigation.

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