Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, standing with Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson (AP)
ATLANTA -- For the first time, the two investigators in the Atlanta Public Schools CRCT scandal spoke publicly Monday.
Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson were selected by former Gov. Sonny Perdue last August to head up the investigation into cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools, and deputized by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
The two broke their silence on Monday, speaking to an overflow crowd at the Atlanta Rotary Club.
Bowers raised several eyebrows by saying he believes the cheating probably went far beyond the 178 educators who have been named thus far.
"I will guarantee you there are many more than that," Bowers said. "Because we ran into a wall of silence, a wall of silence that grew out of an atmosphere of fear and retaliation."
Wilson noted that he and Bowers were experienced prosecutors who had even witnessed executions, but said they were stunned and brought to tears by the heartbreaking stories by teachers they spoke to, some of which he said, refused to cheat and were punished for it, while others, Wilson said, sold their souls.
"Teachers told us stories that literally brought tears to our eyes," Wilson said. "These stories brought tears to our eyes because they came from the heart and from the soul of a human being who loved children and wanted to teach. And they had either resisted the pressures to their own detriment or they had succombed to the pressures to their own loss," Wilson said.
Bowers, Wilson and interim Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis urged the members of Atlanta's business elite not to give up on the school system. All three said the business community is needed more than ever to help the system rebuild.
Davis reiterated that the educators who were implicated in the state report last week would not be in front of students when school begins in the fall. He said that of the three schools which begin year-round classes this week, principals at two of those schools would not be there when classes resumed.