CRCT Report: Answers Changed At 'Erasure Parties'

ATLANTA,None — The 800-page report detailing alleged cheating on the CRCT was made public on Tuesday.

Gov. Nathan Deal initially released a summary of the scathing report but later received the go-ahead by Attorney General Sam Olens to release the full report.

Channel 2's Eric Philips went through the report, which stated that former Atlanta Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall knew about the cheating accusations on the CRCT and either ignored them or tried to hide them.

Among the other findings, the report stated that the changing of answers was often done at weekend gatherings, or so-called erasure parties. The report stated that children were denied special-educational assistance because their falsely reported CRCT scores were too high, and during testing, teachers pointed to the correct answer while standing at students' desks.

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According to the report, Parks Middle School had the most educators accused of cheating under the direction of then-principal Christopher Waller.

Investigators who led the probe were appointed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue. They found cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.

Deal said investigators also found that 178 teachers and principals cheated, and 82 of those confessed to misconduct.

“We cannot allow adult behavior to compromise the very tools which we use statewide to gauge a child's proficiency and whether or not he or she is prepared to succeed in the next grade,” Deal said.

The report uncovered cheating in 78.6 percent of the Atlanta city schools that were examined.

It found 67.8 percent of APS principals probed were directly involved or responsible for cheating.

Before a news conference Tuesday, Deal met with several local leaders, including interim APS Superintendent Errol Davis and new board President Brenda Muhammed.

“We're going to have to wait to have an opportunity to review it and we need at least 24 to 48 hours,” Muhammed said.

The Atlanta Public School Board held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to talk about the investigation.

Mayor Kasim Reed Reacts

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed issued a statement regarding the report.

"Today is a dark day for the Atlanta Public School system," said Reed in a written statement. "The state of Georgia's investigation into allegations of widespread cheating on the CRCT test confirms our worst fears. There is no doubt that systemic cheating occurred on a widespread basis in the school system."

Reed has worked closely with Deal and other state leaders to get to the bottom of the APS cheating scandal. He criticized superintendent Hall and her staff for the problem.

"There is no question that a complete failure of leadership in the Atlanta Public School system hurt thousands of children who were promoted to the next grade without meeting basic academic standards," said Reed.

Impact On Families

The governor said the investigation will bring closure to the problems in Atlanta Public Schools, restoring the focus on students and the classroom.

Channel 2’s Jeff Dore talked with mothers who live on opposite sides of the city about Tuesday’s findings.

Marsha Sims said when it was time to find a neighborhood with a good school for her triplets, she jumped through all the hoops, including poring over the test scores, before settling on Morris Brandon in northwest Atlanta.

Many families buy homes near Morris Brandon just so they can send their children to the school.

“I was comparing them. And to find out now that those test scores were possibly not correct, then how can you choose what school your child attends if they're not correct?” Sims said.

When Sims saw the news that the long-awaited investigation of alleged cheating in Atlanta Public Schools was out, Sims said it was sickening.

“I was extremely upset. I mean extremely,” she said.

Valerie Irvin, whose son attends Best Academy, told Dore, “A lot of people need to be arrested." "Not fines. I think people need to go to jail. I think people need some pain for what they’ve done to these poor kids and parents who think they’ve done well on their test scores,” said Irvin.

Sims also had harsh words for those involved.

“If they knew about it, or if they covered it up, they need to be held accountable,” Sims said. “They clearly did not do their job and they abused their power.”

Business Community Criticized

Soon after the results of the investigation were released, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Fort questioned the business community's ties to Hall.

Business and community leaders were part of a blue-ribbon commission that investigated reports of cheating in city schools last year, but they came up with fewer offenders than the state's new report and found no organized cheating.

"That's why the business community really needs to re-think their involvement," said Fort, who does not believe the panel should have been called "independent" when many members may have had an interest in protecting the reputation of the city and its schools.

Channel 2 Action News has a team of reporters covering every angle of this developing story. Stay with Channel 2 Action and for updates.