Embattled APS Superintendent Leaves Office

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ATLANTA,None —

Dr. Beverly Hall finished her final day as Atlanta schools superintendent by declining to grant any interviews. A school district spokesman told Channel 2's Richard Elliot that he wasn't even sure she was in the building Thursday.

It is an ignominious end to what had been a celebrated 12-year career for Dr. Hall. She arrived in Atlanta 12 years ago and promised to turn around a school district plagued with low graduation rates and even lower test scores.

"We brought her to Atlanta in the midst of great fanfare and great hope and expectations," said Atlanta City Council member Aaron Watson. Watson served on the school board that hired Hall. "I think she had good intentions for the city, good intentions for the public."

And for years, it seemed to work. Test scores climbed and so did graduation rates. She was lauded for bringing in creative academic approaches like the New Schools at Carver. Business leaders applauded her efforts to attract corporate resources for APS.

But not long after Hall won the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year Award, problems arose regarding suspected cheating on the CRCT exams. A state investigation turned up allegations of widespread cheating on the exams. Soon after, the district itself was placed on accreditation probation.

Hall soon came under fire.

"I reached out to Dr. Hall's office, and I was never, ever able to get in touch with her," said state Rep. Ralph Long, D-Southwest Atlanta. Long has been one of Hall's most vocal critics. He told Elliot he is glad to see her go.

"I think today is a good day for Atlanta," said Long. "We can finally move forward and reform our school system. I think it's a good day for the children of Atlanta."

Atlanta City Council member H. Lamar Willis has two children in Atlanta City Schools. Once a Hall supporter, now he questions all her claims made over her entire 12-year tenure as superintendent.

"I think it was a day that was a long time coming," said Willis. "Dr. Hall, I think, had some great gains that were touted along the way. Unfortunately, many of those gains are being questioned today."

Willis wants the Atlanta School Board to look into getting reimbursed for the financial incentives paid to Hall for improving test scores.

"I think as a taxpayer and as a parent with children in APS, the biggest question for me is what are we doing about all of the incentives that we gave her and those leaders in APS to have those high test scores," said Willis.

Watson agrees that it is probably best that Hall leave, and he has a lot of questions still unanswered about her conduct. Still, he hopes parents and students will remember her as someone who tried to help.

"My hope is that we'll remember her with the most generous heart," said Watson.

The final results of the CRCT cheating investigation are due out next week.