Updated:ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned of conflicting accounts from several principals regarding what really happened at a meeting where senior Atlanta Public Schools official Tamara Cotman handed out infamous "Go To Hell" memos.
Conflicting Reports About Go To Hell Memo
Cotman sat down with Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne for an exclusive interview, in which she told him the last two weeks have been the loneliest time in her life.
"I've really held strong to my faith," said Cotman.
Cotman was, until recently, one of four APS executive directors supervising 18 schools, 12 of which are among those suspected of cheating on standardized tests in 2009.
"The future looks professionally pretty bleak right now," Cotman told Winne in the exclusive interview.
Cotman told Winne she has been temporarily reassigned partly because of an anonymous letter claiming she met with a group of principals to speak disparagingly about the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the CRCT erasure investigation, which she denies.
"There is no principal who was in that room who can raise their hand, put it on the Bible and swear to what is in that letter," said Cotman.
George Shingler, a lawyer for Scott Elementary Interim Principal Jimmye Hawkins, who was one of the attendees at the meeting with Cotman, told Winne that Hawkins confirmed the allegations contained in the anonymous letter are true.
However, Cotman's lawyer, George Lawson, provided Winne with letters from other principals that corroborate Cotman's claim that the novelty "Go To Hell" memos she handed out at the meeting was part of a stress relief exercise. The correspondence also backs up Cotman's claim that she did not instruct attendees to tell the GBI to go to hell as the anonymous letter suggested, but rather to write a letter to someone they were angry at and tear it up.
"My card had my mortgage company listed," said one of the letters provided by Lawson.
"We were not instructed to fill it out to any one or any agency," said another letter.
Cotman also denied the allegation she reassigned interim principal Hawkins in retaliation for cooperating with GBI investigators.
Cotman said she did not even know that Hawkins was cooperating with investigators at the time, but instead responded to performance issues when she moved Hawkins, who was later reinstated.
Shingler told Winne that Hawkins did nothing to deserve being moved. "Her work at Scott Elementary seems to be very much appreciated by the faculty there and the community," said Shingler.