Eight former public school teachers from Atlanta were involved in one of the biggest test-cheating scandals in America. The teachers were sentenced to spend between 1 and 7 years in prison.
Jerry Baxter, Fulton County Superior Court Judge, delayed the sentence by one day and recommended the former teachers to negotiate deals with the prosecutors. On Monday he warned them that they would end up in prison if they will be sentenced by him. Baxter confessed that all he asked for was the former teacher to take responsibility for what they did, but they refused.
Only two teachers took the deal. The other eight, who refused deals, were sentenced on Tuesday to spend from 1 to 7 years in jail. This happened in spite of the lawyer’s pleas for community service and probation. The teachers are expected to appeal. If they do so, while the appeals are pending, they will be free on bond.
Judge Baxter said that what happened was the sickest thing that the town had experienced. Thousands of children were harmed, he added.
Three of the eleven teachers involved in the scandal received a 20-year sentence: seven years in prison and the rest of 13 on probation. Five teachers got five-year sentences: two of them were ordered to serve 2 years in prison and the other three to serve 1 year. The two convicted teachers who made agreements with prosecutors and apologized in court received lighter sentences. One of them has 5 years of probation and must serve 6 months of weekends in prison and the other one avoided jail and received 5 years of probation and 1 year of evening home curfew.
Law professor emeritus Ron Carlson of the University of Georgia noted that it was remarkable how the judge gave the defendants a second chance. He was however surprised that the defendants were no eager to step forward and do something about it. He also added that: “These sentences will send shockwaves through the world of education.”
In 2009 cheating was out of control throughout the Atlanta school district. This prompted schools all over the nation to make laws against cheating. During a trial which lasted almost six months prosecutors said that the deletion of wrong answers was part of the cheating. Teachers were pressured to meet test targets. Former teachers, principals and administrators were helped by student achievements to obtain cash bonuses and secure promotions.
Image Source: The Epoch Times