Atlanta Public Schools May Have To Return Nearly $1 Million In Federal Funds

Atlanta Public Schools may have to return $967,022 of federal funds granted for falsely high test scores.

All 44 of the Atlanta schools accused of submitting answer sheets in which teachers erased student responses and replaced with correct ones in 2009 received the distinction of Title I Distinguished Schools. With the distinguished school title, schools proved for three consecutive years "adequate progress," and received anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

"We're concerned if they got money that was not due, that money could be revoked and they would have to recoup it," Matt Cardoza of the Georgia Department of Education told WXIA-TV.

The fund rescindment would likely occur if investigations show that the schools achieved adequate yearly progress as a result of corrected answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. According to the AJC, two Atlanta schools, D.H. Stanton Elementary and Fain Elementary, each received $99,628 in federal funding between 2005 and 2009.

The exact date for funding repudiation, if the money must be returned, has yet to be determined, AJC reports.

"We don't want tax dollars to be given to people unjustly, so we want to make sure the record's straight," Cardoza told WSBTV.

The station also reports that the state is looking into whether the federal money was used to pay bonuses to teachers who cheated on the exams.

Officials are also investigating the financials of former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall, who announced her resignation from the post last November and officially left in June. According to the Atlanta Business Journal, Hall received tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses, a portion of which relates to improved exam scores. Officials are now assessing whether those bonuses were earned or resulted from falsified answer sheets. Hall repeatedly denies having knowledge of any cheating happening in schools during her tenure.