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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Report: Beverly Hall 'either knew or should have known' about school cheating

The state's 800-page report about the Atlanta Public Schools' cheating fiasco is a gripping read, one that we're still trying to finish. But like most whippersnappers with short attention spans, we couldn't help but skip to the final section labeled "Findings." There you'll discover the names of several senior APS officials, some of whom have been accused of destroying documents or misleading investigators. Then you find the name of Beverly Hall, the former superintendent who oversaw the entire system during the time of the cheating scandal. From the report:

Dr. Beverly Hall, Superintendent of the Atlanta Public School System, was ultimately responsible for honestly and accurately reporting information to the State of Georgia regarding the evaluation of students. She certified to the Georgia Department of Education that the district "adhered to all written regulations and procedures relating to testing and test administration including the distribution and collection of test materials, test security, use of these results and department testing dates and the reporting of irregularities" as required by the relevant guidelines and test manuals. lt is our finding from the statistical data and other evidence that Dr. Hall's certification to the state was false.

Dr. Hall failed in her leadership of, and ultimate responsibility for, testing activities and for ensuring the ethical administration of the CRCT in 2009, as well as in previous years. This resulted in, and she is responsible for, falsifying, misrepresenting or erroneously reporting the evaluation of students to the State Department of Education with regard to the results of the 2009 CRCT in the APS system.

Finally, we conclude that Dr. Hall either knew or should have known cheating and other misconduct was occurring in the APS system.

Hall's lawyer issued a statement saying the once-celebrated school official had not read the report, but:

Dr. Hall steadfastly denies that she, her staff, or the vast majority of APS teaching and administrative professionals knew or should have known of any allegedly widespread cheating on APS CRCTs in 2009 or any other year. She further denies any other allegations of knowing and deliberate wrongdoing on her part or on the part of her senior staff, whether during the course of the Investigation or before the Investigation began.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who ordered state investigators to continue their probe after he took office in January, has forwarded the report to district attorneys in Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas counties.

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