by: Tom Regan Updated:ATLANTA —
The first Atlanta teacher cleared in the district’s cheating scandal called her ordeal a nightmare, but she feels vindicated.
"I was proven not guilty. I feel elated and excited," said Angela Williamson.
Williamson, a former teacher at Dobbs Elementary School, was accused of giving students signals such as frowning and coughing to encourage them to change answers on CRCT tests in 2009. Investigators said she cued students to change answers by instructing them to review answers.
"It was stated that I supposedly told a teacher to turn the other way because I was assisting a student. That never happened. It's just a lot of false allegations," said Williamson.
The teacher's attorney said it was telling that lawyers for the school system failed to produce a tape which, they claimed, held the teacher's confession to cheating.
"We honestly don't believe that even if there was a tape, it would be anything different from what Ms. Williamson stated, that she followed Atlanta school policy in telling the children to go over their answers," said attorney Gerald Griggs.
On Saturday, a tribunal heard evidence from the school system and the teacher. Afterward, it rejected the superintendent’s recommendation that Williamson be fired and instead, recommended reinstatement.
While happy with the decision, Williamson said the accusations were unsubstantiated from the beginning.
"It was like a witch hunt," said Williamson.
The teacher is hopeful the Atlanta School Board will uphold the tribunal's recommendation for reinstatement so she can return to work.
"I want to see the right thing happen. I want to be back in the classroom where I belong," she said.