Former top APS leader preparing to be indicted by grand jury

by: Mark Winne Updated:

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ATLANTA - As a grand jury considering possible indictments in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal wrapped up testimony for a second day, only Channel 2 Action News talked with a former top school leader who believes she could be indicted.

The District Attorney's Office said the grand jury could hand up indictments as early as Friday.

A former top school leader, bracing for indictment, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne she did nothing wrong.

"I don't want to cry. I can't cry right now. Look. See the bags (under my eyes)? I've been crying for two days, Mark. So I can't cry, I cannot cry on camera today, can't do it," Tamara Johnson told Winne.

Johnson said she was one of the top half-dozen or so officials at Atlanta Public Schools at the end of the Beverly Hall administration.

"I have done right by children. I sleep well at night," Johnson said.

She knows she may be one of the top targets of the grand jury investigating the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests cheating scandal.

"It's very painful, but (I) also have peace and comfort because I know, ultimately, that I serve a God of truth. And the truth always sets the captives free," Johnson said.

Her lawyer, George Lawson, has told her to brace herself for the possibility she'll be indicted.

"Yes, my attorney has advised me to prepare for the worst-case scenario," Johnson said.

"We've waited a very long time for our day in court. I will tell you that I've never had a conversation with the DA's office. I'm still perplexed by the reality that I could possibly be indicted, and no one has ever asked me a single question," Johnson said.

"You mean from the DA's office?" Winne asked.

"From the DA's office," Johnson said.

The special investigators alledge Tamara Cotman, as Johnson was formerly known, provided false information and knew or should've known cheating and other misconduct was occurring.

Not so, she maintains, denying she did anything wrong.

"Ever fire anybody for cheating?" Winne asked.

"Absolutely. Yes. In seven years, I had seven cases," Johnson said.

Now, her future is at issue.

"I've read Psalms 27, so I'm not worried. I'm not afraid," Johnson said. "Whatever man has planned for me now, I know that the truth will set me free."



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