Fulton DA Won't Recuse Himself From APS Probe

Updated:

FULTON COUNTY, Ga.,None - Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told Channel 2 Action News that he will resist any calls to remove himself from the criminal investigation into the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

“I will not recuse myself or my office from this case,” Howard stated in an email.

The D.A.’s statement followed revelations that his wife, Petrina, is a counselor at one of the elementary schools where test cheating took place.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan closely reviewed the state report on M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. It stated that Petrina Howard assisted a teacher in coordinating standardized tests.

6 p.m.: DA Will Not Recuse Himself From APS Investigation

Although the report states six educators confessed to altering grades on tests, Howard was exonerated by investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“She knew nothing about cheating. She wasn’t a major player in the school system from a managerial standpoint,” said attorney Mike Bowers, a member of the team that carried out the state investigation into test cheating.

Bowers, a former long-serving state attorney general, told Regan that because Petrina Howard was not involved in cheating and has a relatively small position in the school system, there’s no reason for the district attorney to recuse himself.

“I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest. I don’t think there’s an appearance as such,” said Bowers.

But some disagree with Bowers and the district attorney.

The president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, a watchdog group, says the D.A.’s marital relationship with someone who is employed by an agency he is investigating raises concerns.

“Paul Howard should recuse himself from the investigation,” said John Sherman.

In an email message to Regan, the district attorney said he would “complete an investigation of this magnitude with both integrity and professionalism.”

He also said five staff members have been assigned to investigate possible criminal charges in the case.


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