(ATLANTA) — A number of Atlanta-area teachers and administrators could wind up behind bars for years after a jury Wednesday convicted them on racketeering and other charges related to a cheating scandal in which they boosted students’ grades on standardized tests.
In all, 11 defendants were found guilty. There was one acquittal.
Prosecutors centered their case on Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) scores for 2009. They found that cheating occurred at 44 of 56 schools examined and that 178 teachers and principals took part in inflating grades.
Although the investigation began in 2011, it’s believed teachers fudged students’ scores as far back as 2001.
What the cheating wound up doing, according to prosecutors, was cheat kids who actually needed remedial help with their courses.
During the trial, prosecutors maintained that Atlanta Schools Superintend Beverly Hall, who died since the indictments, and others created a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation…which created a conspiracy of silence and deniability.”
Although their attorneys asked that the defendants be allowed to stay free pending sentencing, all were remanded into custody.
Since the scandal broke, 82 teachers have confessed to misconduct while 35 were indicted by a grand jury. Of that group, 21 pleaded to lesser charges and also testified for the prosecution.
The educators who were convicted could face decades in jail when sentenced.
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