Classes start for 2 APS schools in cheating report

12:33 PM, Jul 13, 2011   |    comments
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Students start a new year at Boyd Elementary, one of two year-round schools included in the state report on APS cheating.

ATLANTA -- Classes started Wednesday for three year-round Atlanta Public Schools, including two named in the state investigative report on CRCT cheating.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: CRCT Cheating Investigation

Hutchinson Elementary and Boyd Elementary both have interim principals to replace leaders removed from their posts by Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis on Monday.

"I didn't know the principal had anything to do with it," said Boyd Elementary parent Omarris Calahan. "I know about the CRCT scandal but didn't know it had anything to do with the principal." 

At Boyd Elementary, former principal Emalyn Foreman told investigators should could not explain why 56 percent of classrooms were flagged for wrong to right erasures.

One teacher told investigators that Foreman put pressure on teachers to improve test scores.

"Now I'm like, are my daughter's test scores part of it?" said Boyd parent Tanicha Allen. "She's a very smart student, and she actually exceeded the scores. Now I'm like, is she one of those that they erased the scores?"

Foreman was replaced on Monday with interim principal Keisha Gibbons.

"She deserves her shot," said Boyd parent Michael Davis. "I look forward to seeing what happens in the future, wish her the best."

Rebecca Dashiel-Mitchell at Hutchinson Elementary was replaced as principal after the state's investigative report accused her of failing to properly monitor the 2009 CRCT.

Almost half of the classrooms at Hutchinson were flagged for unusual erasures, and one teacher confessed to giving students the answers.

"You teacher your children to look up to teachers and principals and try to do their best in school," said Hutchinson Elementary parent Bridgette Broughton. "The cheating didn't help."

Shanda Beadles was named interim principal of Hutchinson on Tuesday.

At Boyd, one of the new area superintendents, Betsy Bockman, stopped by to check on the students, staff and the new interim principal.

"Mrs. Gibbons has it under control," Bockman said. "Everything's going great." 

Bockman is the former principal at Inman Middle School, who was promoted on Monday to replace Robin Hall, a member of Dr. Beverly Hall's inner circle.

"I feel such a change," she said. "The changes that have been made, and the way we're moving forward and focusing on the kids and supporting the schools is a breath of fresh air. I think we'll come out of it a lot stronger. I really do.

The same principal's message was posted on both Boyd's and Hutchinson's websites:  

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The recent revelations of the CRCT investigation disappointed us all. This is a very serious matter and the Atlanta Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Errol B. Davis, Jr. are giving it the immediate attention it deserves. As a result of the investigation, Atlanta Public Schools will undergo significant changes with respect to policy, procedure, and personnel. As part of this necessary transition, I will serve as interim principal of Hutchinson Elementary School.

It is understandable for parents and students to have concerns regarding this sudden change in leadership, but I can assure you that I will always put the best interests of our students first. In addition, we must remember that while my role and the role of other leaders in the district are important, the APS leader that matters most to our students is the leader that stands in front of the classroom, delivering compelling lessons, providing critical feedback and reassuring students that they can reach their goals.

Our children represent our hopes and dreams for the future, and they deserve the best education we can give them. I believe every student has the potential to succeed, and I will empower our teachers to meet the needs of all of our students. Our students will have the appropriate tools to excel academically, and we will provide any student who does not meet standards the support they need to be successful. However, in order for me to foster student success at Hutchinson, I must have your support. There must be a collaborative effort between students, parents, teachers and staff to ensure that our students enjoy a successful school year.

This is a challenging time for our district and our schools, but in the face of adversity, we must remain optimistic. Our children are counting on us.

Thank you for your support and understanding. Please join me in supporting our staff, our leaders and our school as we work to provide the best education possible for our students.

Both school websites also include links to the APS CRCT site and a note about the school district's anonymous tip line:

If you ever have a concern about unethical, illegal or unsafe activity, don't keep it to yourself. Call The Network at 1-877-801-7754, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers are not required to provide their names when calling. A professional interview specialist will document the concern and relay the information to APS for follow-up. In addition, reports can be submitted via the web @ www.tnwinc.com/atlantapublicschools.

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