Atlanta - Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard designated Mike Bowers, the former state attorney general, and Bob Wilson, the former DeKalb district attorney, to be prosecutors in the DA's office Tuesday morning
Bowers and Wilson, appointed in August by Gov. Sonny Perdue to be special investigators, have "presented my office with clear-cut, direct, eye-witnessed evidence" that student tests were improperly altered by Atlanta Public School employees, Howard said. "It is now our duty to determine the extent of this wrongdoing and decide in which cases criminal prosecution may be appropriate."
When asked about the extent of the cheating scandal, Howard said, "If it was just one person, I don't think we'd be doing this today."
Howard said he may impanel a special investigative grand jury to help with the probe. This would also allow prosecutors to seek formal charges.
"It signifies they're looking to indict people," said Atlanta criminal defense attorney Jerry Froelich, who is not involved in the investigation. "It's a sign that they feel they've gotten to the stage where they think they have enough evidence to bring charges."
This includes possible felony charges against school officials. The potential charges include lying to agents or investigators, which can bring up to five years in prison, and the destruction or altering of public documents, which can result in up to 10 years in prison.
Earlier on Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported from an official that numerous Atlanta Public Schools employees have confessed to changing students' test papers, providing answers to students or watching others manipulate tests, according to an official briefed on the state's investigation into cheating on standardized tests.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some teachers are telling investigators, "I'm guilty. Here's what I did. Here's what I know happened."
In August, Gov. Sonny Perdue named Bowers and Wilson as special investigators to determine whether Atlanta and Dougherty County school officials falsified scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The DCSS investigation is currently underway.