ATLANTA — Nearly 10 years after the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal first broke, Channel 2's Dave Huddleston sat down with a former principal who spent time in prison for her role in the scandal that rocked the city.
Dana Evans, the former principal at Dobbs Elementary School, was once an up and coming star in the APS system. Years later, she was one of 11 educators convicted in the widespread cheating scandal, in which educators manipulated answer sheets for thousands of Atlanta students to up test scores at their schools.
Evans was found guilty of making false statements. In an exclusive interview with Huddleston, Evans maintained she didn't do anything wrong.
"I loved education and I was really good at it," Evans told Huddleston.
Evans was principal at Dobbs Elementary School when dozens of teachers were accused in the 2009 APS cheating scandal.
She has consistently said she didn't cheat and was unaware some of her teachers were doing it.
"How did you not know it was happening?" Huddleston asked Evans.
"The teachers who confessed to cheating at my school, and it was three of them, hid it from me and they testified to that in court," Evans said.
Despite maintaining her innocence, a jury found Evans guilty.
"The hardest part for me though, it's not even going to jail and being convicted, it's the notion that I harmed children," Evans said.
Evans was convicted of violating the Georgia RICO Act and one count of false writings and statements.
At the time, she drew sympathy from Judge Jerry Baxter. He said in court that Evans' conviction was "probably the biggest tragedy of all of them ... And I want to tell you I consider you a wonderful educator, and that is what makes it so sad."
The scandal made national headlines and inspired film director Jodi Gomes to make the documentary “One Child Left Behind: The Untold Atlanta Cheating Scandal.”
"I couldn't figure out how we were treating educators as modern-day mafia," Gomes told Huddleston.
The director says 10 years after the APS scandal, we find ourselves once again in the middle of another test cheating scandal. Evans plans to go to court in June to ask for a new trial.
Evans told Huddleston that she’s now a therapist, helping victims through traumatic events.
As for the thousands of children caught up in the cheating scandal, the last of them will soon graduate from Atlanta Public Schools. The district says they continue to serve those students through independent learning plans, tutoring and academic wrap-around services through a program called Target 2021 Initiative.
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