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Atlanta Public School teachers who cooperated in cheating investigation granted immunity

11:48 PM, Jul 6, 2011   |    comments
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  • Michael Bowers, Bob Wilson, GA Gov. Nathan Deal, at State Capitol, July 5, 2011
  • Sonya and Mahogany Robertson, outside Gideons Elementary School, July 6, 2011

ATLANTA -- Many of the teachers named in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal may never be prosecuted. Even those who admit they took part in manipulating the results of their students' standardized tests to make the schools look good may escape prosecution.

That's because the lead investigators made a key decision early on.

Former State Attorney General Mike Bowers and Former DeKalb County DA Bob Wilson decided to offer teachers immunity from prosecution if they came forward, cooperated and told all they know about the cheating.

The immunity will keep the teachers out of prison.

But those same teachers could still lose their jobs, their pensions, and their state teaching certificates.

As for principals and central office administrators -- they do face possible criminal prosecution, plus loss of jobs, pensions and professional standing.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has sent the report of cheating to three local prosecutors and referred the case to them -- the District Attorneys from Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas Counties.

Those three will now review the report and individually decide whether to prosecute any of the educators who might have broken any state laws in their respective counties, Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas.

"Teachers that cheated should be fired; principals that cheated should be fired," Atlanta parent Sonya Robertson said Wednesday evening.

It is impossible to overstate the absolute outrage of parents like Sonya Robertson, whose daughter Mahogany attends Gideons Elementary, where 12 people including the then-principal confessed to cheating their students. The trust parents placed in their children's teachers and principals has, for many of them, been broken beyond repair.

"I think [teachers and administrators] should be prosecuted for lying, cheating," Roberston said. "We tell our children every day not to lie, not to steal, not to cheat. And then we have the people that are over them in the administration that's doing just what they tell them not to do... It is very, very, very heartbreaking that any teachers, any principals, would approve of this."

Jason Dugas is a Gwinnett County parent who doesn't want Atlanta's cheating educators to get away with it and then find jobs in his county's schools.

"Make an example of them so the next set of teachers doesn't try to do same thing or something similar," he said Wednesday evening. "Anybody that had anything to do with it should be held accountable. I mean, if you're not going to prosecute them, what's to stop them from going to another city or another state and doing the same thing?"

The three DAs could decide in the next few weeks whether to prosecute any of the educators named in the report, excluding the teachers who were granted immunity.

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