ATLANTA - Atlanta Public Schools has officially fired its first teacher implicated in the standardized test cheating scandal.
During an APS meeting Wednesday morning, the school board quickly voted to fire Parks Middle School teacher Damany Lewis.
Superintendent Erroll Davis explained that Lewis already had a lengthy hearing in front of a tribunal and the board listened to their recommendation.
During an emotional hearing last week, Lewis begged for leniency, claiming he was coerced by the school principal to change students’ test answers.
Davis had strong words for that excuse.
“Let me categorically reject that pressure causes cheating. I’ve worked under pressure my entire career and I’ve never been inclined to cheat,” Davis said.
After Lewis’ hearing last week, a tribunal of educators voted to fire him. On Wednesday, the board unanimously, briefly and without public discussion voted to uphold that recommendation, making Lewis the first APS teacher to be let go as a result of the mass cheating scandal.
“It’s unfortunate when we have to terminate the career of any individual, but I believe it’s appropriate and long overdue in this case,” Davis said.
Davis said the district began with 178 implicated employees. Now, 102 implicated employees remain on the payroll, costing the district $600,000 to $1 million a month.
Davis said the district must follow due process and he remains positive that things are moving along as quickly as they can.
“The pace of the process is picking up, and we hope to complete all our processes by the May 15 deadline,” Davis said.
All charges against the implicated teachers must be filed by May 15, or their contracts will have to be extended for another year.
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