Former APS administrator speaks out about trial on intimidation charges

by: Mark Winne Updated:

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A former Atlanta Public Schools official who faced trial for intimidation is talking about life after the acquittal.

Tamara Cotman was one of  35 educators named in the cheating scandal.

Last week, a jury ruled she was not guilty of intimidating other educators.

She told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne how difficult life has been since the scandal broke.

"It was a mixture of joy and sadness for me, at the same time. Joy because I felt like my day for justice had finally come but the sadness because I was reminded of a few colleagues who will never get their day in court," Cotman told Winne.

Cotman said her first stop after leaving the courthouse was to visit the family of another indicted APS educator, retired principal Willie Davenport.

"She died the Tuesday before I was acquitted," Cotman said.

Cotman said she can't talk about her acquittal on a witness-influencing charge without talking about her biggest influence.

"I've lost many things along this journey, but I never lost my faith. I never lost my hope in Christ that the truth would set me free," Cotman said.

"You showed virtually no outward reaction when it (the verdict) was read, right?" Winne asked Cotman.

"Well I think it's the peace that passes all understanding and that's truly what I had," Cotman said.

"It was a bold move by your lawyer Ben Davis to push for the speedy trial, was it not?" Winne asked Cotman.

"Yes, it was his recommendation. Once he looked at the charges and he looked at the evidence that we had, he was insistent," Cotman said.

She said there were some questions her lawyer didn't want her to answer because she and other educators still face the cheating scandal racketeering indictment, to which she also maintains her innocence.

"You were a tough task master?" Winne asked Cotman.

"I was very focused on our goals and outcomes. I could be described as a taskmaster," Cotman answered.

"Did you push people to cheat?" Winne asked.

"Absolutely not. I would not even tolerate anyone engaging in any kind of cheating," Cotman said.

"So what are your finances like now?" Winne asked Cotman.

"So many of us, and I'm not alone, I think this is one fact that is pervasive for a lot of people, there are people who simply can't find work because of this. I'm one of those people and it's been very difficult. But I do know that God provides," Cotman said.

Cotman said she applied for a parapro, or teacher's aide, job with another district before her trial and they turned her down even though they were looking for someone bi-lingual and she is fluent in Spanish.

Winne reached out to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's office for a possible response. They returned an email saying, "Mr. Howard declines to participate at this time."