Ex-Atlanta public schools educators out on bond

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Nation-_Atlanta_educators_indicted.jpgFormer Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, center, heads towards the Fulton County Jail to turn herself in on Tuesday, April 4, 2013 in Atlanta. Thirty-five educators within the Atlanta school system, including Hall, were named in a 65-count indictment last week that alleges a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster student test scores and, as a result, receive bonuses for improved student performance. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)

ATLANTA — All 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators indicted last week had surrendered to authorities and bonded out of jail as of Wednesday night.

A grand jury indictment alleges that the 35 were involved in a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster student test scores and — as a result — receive bonuses for improved student performance. The cheating came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.

Former D.H. Stanton Elementary School principal Willie Davenport was the last of the defendants to surrender and had bonded out of jail by Wednesday afternoon, said Fulton County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan.

The criminal investigation lasted 21 months and the allegations date back to 2005. 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.

In addition to former Superintendent Beverly Hall, 34 ex-employees were indicted: four high-level administrators, six principals; two assistant principals; six testing coordinators; 14 teachers; and a school improvement specialist and a school secretary. Hall was released just before 11 p.m. Tuesday after posting $200,000 bond.

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.

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