Lawyer: APS made false promises to accused teachers

ATLANTA,None — A lawyer representing a half-dozen Atlanta teachers named in a cheating investigation says the group was told if they resigned, the state agency that holds their professional license would show leniency.

"'Educators who cooperate and submit their resignation will receive anywhere from a 20- to 40- day suspension as opposed to two years'. It's certainly very misleading," attorney Sharese Shields said.

Shields told Channel 2's Tom Regan that the Atlanta Public Schools attorney told her the deal would not be put in writing and her check with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission found no one contacted the state agency about a resignation deal.

Georgia PSC Executive Secretary Kelly Henson confirmed with Regan that there is no such arrangement, and educators who cooperated with investigators could get a lesser sanction, but it does not hinge on resigning from a position.

"The resignation itself, taken singularly, will not drive the possibility of a lower sanction," Henson said.

Last week, 60 educators were summoned to Atlanta Public School headquarters and given an ultimatum -- resign or face termination.
The school system is trying to close the books on the cheating scandal before May 15. After that date, tenured teachers could receive a one-year contract extension under state law if they do not leave the school system. So far, APS has spent $6.2 million on salaries for teachers who are not in the classroom.A total of 120 educators are on paid administrative leave.

Shields told Regan her clients have decided not to resign, especially after learning that it would not help them before the Professional Standards Commission.

"It's disturbing. There's a lot on the line here, and educators need accurate and complete information in deciding what to do moving forward," Shields said.

An Atlanta Public Schools spokesman said because the teacher meetings involved personnel matters, the school system could not discuss the cases publicly.