ATLANTA -- Six teachers and one principal voluntarily left the Atlanta Public School system this week after being implicated in a system-wide cheating scandal.
Atlanta Public Schools Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis demanded the resignation of 178 educators implicated in an investigation conducted by the Office of the Georgia Governor. That report found widespread cheating on the Criterion Reference Competency Test.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CRCT Cheating Investigation
Wednesday afternoon, Atlanta Public Schools officials released the names of seven people who either retired or resigned from the school system.
Teacher, Grove Park
The resignations and retirements were presumably prompted by a letter issued by Davis to all of those implicated in the report. In the letter, Davis said that staff should either resign by Wednesday, or expect to face termination.
Two employees quit and two others retired during the first two days of a three-day grace period put in place by Davis.
"I've heard two young teachers say they're going to go on with life," said Vidaillia Turner, President of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers. "They don't need the emotional stress. They want to be through with it."
Turner said there's no financial advantage to resigning, in terms of retirement, COBRA coverage or unemployment.
In fact, teachers who resign could still lose their teacher's certification.
One incentive: they would be able to answer "no" on future job applications if asked if they've ever been terminated.
It's now clear that many implicated educators plan to fight the cheating allegations.
The AFT has a team of four lawyers who will work with close to 50 members named in the report.
The process could take four to six months.
"Through due process, and thank God for that, you do get a full hearing," Turner said. "You can restore your name, restore your professional name, save your career."
"In fact, there are some teachers who have as many as 40-plus years in that report who could retire who've decided I'm not retiring," she said.
The interim superintendent's next step is sending employees official notices of termination.
They'll be pulled from school, but it's likely they will stay on the payroll until the school board votes to fire them.
The state investigative report released on July 5 showed widespread cheating on the 2009 CRCTs. A total of 44 schools were implicated, and more than 80 APS employees confessed, according to the report.