Judge chastises APS superintendent's attorneys

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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FULTON COUNTY, Ga - After denying a motion to throw out key evidence in the trial of former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, a judge chastised her attorneys for wasting his time.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter told attorneys that Friday's hearing, to see if he would allow prosecutors to introduce key erasure analysis evidence, was a waste of the court's time.

"This has been a lot of wasted time," said Baxter.  "You can be upset, but you have kept me here all day on this hearing, and it almost borders on frivolous."

Hall's attorney asked for the hearing to see if they could exclude from the trial evidence on the erasure analysis done of the 2009 APS CRCT's.  The prosecution called witnesses from CTB-McGraw-Hill, the company that scans and scores those tests.  Its senior software engineer and a psychometrician testified that the science and software behind the analysis was sound.

"If the kid makes anything close to a reasonable bubble, even if the kid comes anywhere near following directions, the answer in 100-percent rock solid," said Senior Software Engineer Randall Fry.  "No problem whatsoever."

Erasure analysis was key to discovering the APS cheating scandal.  It revealed a statistically impossible amount of wrong to right erasures on the CRCT.  After months of investigation and legal action, several teachers at several Atlanta Public schools confessed to erasing wrong answers off the CRCT and changing them to right answers.

After hearing the evidence, Baxter denied Hall's attorney's motion to keep that evidence out.

"This is well-established," said Baxter.  "It's totally well-established that this is the way they do it, and I don't know what this was about.  But I deny your motion."

Hall's attorney, Richard Deane, took exception to the way he felt Baxter was characterizing their case.  Baxter offered an apology, but reiterated his frustration at the case.

"I'm sorry if I've upset anybody, because I've just had enough," Baxter said.

Hall's trial was delayed because she is undergoing treatment for Stage Four breast cancer.