Erroll Davis, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Pledges To Move Beyond Cheating Scandal

In a letter Atlanta residents, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis has pledged to move beyond the cheating scandal that rocked the state and “stunned” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The letter, sent July 5, comes one year after 178 employees were accused of participating in various testing improprieties related to the administration of the spring 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

According to the findings of a two-year investigation, systematic cheating occurred in at least 44 of the 56 examined Atlanta public schools. More than 80 educators confessed to various forms of cheating, including erasing wrong answers on students’ multiple choice exams and replacing them with the correct ones.

In his letter, Davis writes that to date, 10 of the accused educators have been terminated through the tribunal process, while 127 named in the report have either resigned or retired, according to Buckhead Patch.

One employee was exonerated by a tribunal, and 12 have been reinstated due to insufficient evidence to bring administrative cases against them. About 30 employees remain on administrative leave, though they will be subjected to tribunal hearings through August, according to Davis.

“I am fairly confident that none of the educators named in the report will be on the payroll by the end of the calendar year, except for those reinstated because of a lack of evidence to bring administrative cases against them,” Davis writes in the letter.

The superintendent also pointed to improved testing security measures, such as locked safe rooms to store testing materials that require keys and electronic access cards for entry, security envelopes with tamper-proof safety strips to hold test forms and answer sheets and “strict chain of custody procedures for accessing and handling testing materials.”

Davis said that under his administration, ethics violations will always be much more severely punished than other performance issues, as he hopes to spark a culture change throughout the organization.