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Teacher's group offering legal assistance to Dougherty teachers involved in CRCT investigation

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- A spokesman for the state's largest independent teachers group says that the organization will provide legal assistance to member teachers in the Dougherty County School System involved in the ongoing CRCT investigation.

Tim Callahan, director of public relations for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), said Monday that the organization sent an e-mail to teachers and other school officials in an effort to "reach out," to teachers who may feel they need legal representation during the investigation.

A group of special investigators led by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, is investigating the Atlanta Public School System and the Dougherty County School System at the request of Gov. Sonny Perdue after both systems had unusually high numbers of wrong-to-right erasure marks on the 2009 Criterion Reference Competency Tests.

"This is serious business ... with potentially career-affecting repercussions," said Callahan. "So we feel that it's important enough that teachers who were members of PAGE in 2009 should have legal counsel to guide them if they feel that they are a target of the investigation or may be otherwise involved."

"It's not something they have to go through alone," he said.

PAGE has extended the same offer to teachers in the Atlanta Public School system, Callahan said. Many teachers in that district have already secured legal representation.

PAGE, a non-union professional association with 80,000 members statewide, has taken a strong position against the governor's ongoing investigation of the school systems and teachers.

PAGE President and principal of Albany's Lincoln Magnet School Sheryl Holmes wrote in a press release posted on the group's website that, "We might very well ask ourselves and our fellow citizens where the presumption of innocence has gone and why we have rushed to judgment in what is a very human enterprise on the basis of machine generated accusations."

"I have faith in the integrity of our processes, but more than that I have faith in the integrity of the educators with whom I work in my school and in my county. That faith and confidence carries on to my thousands of colleagues across the state.

"I ask the public to have faith as well. Allow us to fully investigate these accusations. If we find mistakes have been made we will correct them. If we find educators have acted improperly, that too will and should be addressed. In the interim, however, let us act with prudence, integrity and respect for educators," she wrote.