Updated:ATLANTA, Ga. —
Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue choked up as he testified at the trial for former Atlanta Public Schools Area Director Tamara Cotman.
Cotman is accused of influencing a witness during the GBI's investigation into the APS CRCT cheating scandal. On the stand, Perdue explained why he decided to order that investigation.
"The truth, simply," said Perdue as he choked back tears. "These kids get one shot at elementary school. They only get one shot. I don't care if they're being cheated on their behalf, they're still being cheated. So that was my motivation. We needed integrity in the testing system because these kids needed integrity in their life."
Fulton County prosecutors allege Cotman instructed school employees to tell GBI investigators to "go to hell," then demoted a principal she believed reported on that meeting.
Former APS teacher Stacey Smith testified that she felt pressured to change CRCT answers for select students in her third-grade class at Usher-Collier Elementary School in southwest Atlanta.
"I was told that I was not a tenured teacher, that I could be replaced at any moment," Smith said. "I didn't want to lose my job, that I lost anyway."
Smith admitted to lying to investigators during her first interview with the GBI.
GBI Director Vernon Keenan testified that his investigators ran into that a lot.
"There were many instances of teachers that were concerned about their jobs," said Keenan. "Very afraid of administrators. Very afraid of retribution. Terrified."
Testimony will continue Tuesday.