The following is a guest commentary written by John Sherman, president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, and submitted to BuckheadView today, following a national TV report last night (Nov. 28) on the scandal. It is the expressed opinion of Mr. Sherman and the FCTF.
On February 10, 2010, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement announced that 256,779 wrong-to-right erasures were found on the 2009 CRCT tests given to grades 1-8. This massive cheating took place in 56 Atlanta Public Schools and was the largest cheating scandal in the history of public education.
|John S. Sherman|
Given the scope of the cheating, the Taxpayers Foundation urged then Governor Sonny Perdue to authorize a State Investigation.
On August 20th, Governor Perdue authorized a State Investigation headed by Michael Bowers, former State Attorney General, Bob Wilson, former Solicitor General of DeKalb County, and Richard Hyde, professional investigator.
The investigation took 10 months and involved 61 investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 17 members of the Georgia Sharing & Analysis Center, 9 Georgia State Trooper & Officers, 4 from the Georgia Inspector General’s Office, 2 from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, 2 from the DeKalb Solicitor General’s Office, plus 15 attorneys and legal assistants from Balch & Bingham and Wilson, Morton & Downs. A total of over 100 investigators and attorneys at a cost to the State of $2.6 million!
The Investigative Report is 413-pages with the opening sentences: “Thousands of school children were harmed by widespread cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools. We examined and uncovered organized and systemic misconduct within the district as far back as 2001. Superintendent Beverly Hall and her senior staff knew, or should have known, that cheating and other offenses were occurring. A culture of fear and conspiracy of silence infected this school system.”
The report was released on June 30, five months ago. Yet, in spite of the evidence contained in the report, not a single indictment has been handed down. According to an elected official who spoke with District Attorney Paul Howard, the District Attorney is “overwhelmed.”
The Taxpayers Foundation feels that in view of the circumstances, Governor Deal should assign the preparation of indictments to State Attorney General Sam Olens, with the assistance of Michael Bowers, Bob Wilson, and Richard Hyde, the three Chief Investigators.
The Foundation believes that this scandal will never see “closure” until Beverly Hall and her five-member senior staff are indicted and convicted.
John S. Sherman, President
Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation