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CRCT Investigators say evidence of cheating "found in every school we've been to"

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga — State investigators probing suspicions of Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating within the Dougherty County School system in 2009 said Wednesday that cheating has been found at each school probed so far.

photo

Richard Hyde

"We have confirmed evidence of cheating in every school we have been to," Investigator Richard Hyde said. He said his team has visited five DCSS schools, nine left to go. He also confirmed that investigators have begun to use polygraphs for some interviews.

Investigators declined to identify which five schools they have visited "We've done a number of polygraphs and the results are very telling," Hyde said. "It's proving to be a very good investigative tool. We used them in Atlanta, but not to the degree of success we are having here.

"We already have enough evidence to begin making arrests, but have yet to do so."

The investigation into the exams administered to first- through eighth-graders in Atlanta and Dougherty County school districts began a year ago at the direction of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. At issue is the number of erasures on the 2009 CRCTs in which wrong answers were corrected.

State officials were concerned that at some of the schools there were too many of those corrections, and eventually focused on Atlanta and Dougherty County.

The findings of state investigations into Atlanta's school district were announced July 5. Among other things, the governor's report found cheating in 44 of the 56 Atlanta schools examined and said that 178 teachers and principals in the schools had been involved in the cheating or should have known it was going on.

"When we started our investigation in August of last year, the governor (Perdue) gave us three tasks:," Investigator Mike Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general, said. "One, get to the truth of the CRCT cheating. Two, develop information to remove teachers and administrators who cheated from the system. Three, develop information for criminal prosecution.

A preliminary probe in February of last year flagged 56 Atlanta schools. Dougherty County had the state's second-highest number at 14 flagged, more than half of the system's 26 schools.

"The first phase of the (DCSS) investigation is between 40 to 50 percent complete," Bowers said. "The biggest difference here is the scope is not as large as in Atlanta and we've had complete cooperation of administrators, teachers, parents and students here. I attribute that to (DSCC Superintendent Joshua) Dr. Murfree and (DCSS Attorney) Tommy Coleman."

Just over two weeks ago, Bowers, Hyde and 12 Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents fanned out across the county in perhaps the largest state probe in Dougherty County's history.

"We have a smaller group of case agents here because the scope of the investigation is smaller," Bowers said. "But the case agents here are the core of the group from Atlanta and they've gotten to be really, really good at it.

Hyde agreed.

"We've identified suspects more quickly here than Atlanta," Hyde said. "We've also had more involvement with students and parents here at a significant grass-roots level. That's been a whole different angle."

Hyde said he anticipates taking a "month or so to fill in some holes" and expects to release a final investigation report by "around Thanksgiving."

Comments

bigbob 2 years, 7 months ago

Does this realy suprise anybody. This school system is a joke.

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Momof3 2 years, 7 months ago

Here we go......this is about to get interesting...

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sdh 2 years, 7 months ago

I never was surprised...even when the story first hit a couple of years ago. Decades ago I was a para in KIndergarten back when the kids took the California Achievement Test and I was expected to take half of the tests home ( Kdg. was half day then) to clean them up. Mainly to erase stray marks but I was told if a child chose more than one answer that I needed to erase the wrong answers. Since the kids took this test in the beginning of school and at the end, I just had to randomly select which ones to erase at the beginning of the year but at the end of the year I had to erase the wrong answers so that it looked like the teacher was doing a much better job.

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sdh 2 years, 7 months ago

Oh...and I also FULLY believe that Sally Whatley knew about all of this cheating. She announced her "retirement" and then very shortly after the erasing was questioned....No coincidence at all to me.

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lsbridges 2 years, 7 months ago

bigbob, really is spelled "really."

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sj1958 2 years, 7 months ago

I worked in the system for five years in the middle school area and never once was I asked to cheat on a test of any kind. Those who believe that Dr. Whatley knows about what principals and teachers do on an everyday basic is crazy. Teachers have little contact with administration at their own schools not counting the central office. Dr. Whatley is an upstanding lady with nothing to be ashamed of except being a part of the worst system in the history of education. She could only do what the board allowed her to do. As we all know the board members are a bunch of clowns. It is a shame that we allow uneducated individuals with no thought for our children to hold office. We have no one of quality in Dougherty County that will run for such an office. That is the problem.

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LuLu 2 years, 7 months ago

Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy. I'd LOVE to know what took place during the Governor's meeting a few weeks ago with Murfree and Coleman. Ol' number 34 sure seems to have had a change of attitude. And Mrs. Whatley may very well be an "upstanding lady", but you have to admit that her retirement was kind of sudden and unexpected!

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Momof3 2 years, 7 months ago

HAHAHA don't you know it. I just REALLY wish they would think about the kids FIRST and what is best for them. I guess that's asking alot though huh?

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chinaberry25 2 years, 7 months ago

It should surprise Murfree because he probably stil thinks there is not cheating.

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bigbob 2 years, 7 months ago

"Isbridges" the teacher was suppose to fix that for me. LOL

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waltspecht 2 years, 7 months ago

The problem in Dougherty County, Albany and the rest of the State is the specially created districts that place the minority at an unfair advantage. Yes, I know in the past the reverse was the case, but does doing the same thing in reverse make any of it right? I mean isn't it just as prejudiced to vote against a minority as it is to vote for one just because of the ethnic status of the individual? As far as Dr. Whatley is concerned, I believe she either knew, or should have known. Plus I believe there were several attempts made to stop this investigation due to the involvement of higher ups that had earned political favor, and were calling in those markers.

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tsand 2 years, 7 months ago

What a shock! The Dougherty County School System has been a joke for many years. I remember, as a kid, moving to south Georgia in 1980 and everyone told us to live in Lee County since we had kids because the schools in Albany were just awful. I know there are some great teachers in the school system, but the corruption is at the administrator level, just like in Atlanta.

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brazant 2 years, 7 months ago

The Dougherty County School System is not a joke. Face it there is too much emphasis put on standardized testing. Teach the children and use the test to make help the students. If the scores are low work on that concept. Do not place children according to these test scores. Some children and adults are not good test takers. The state needs to replace the CRCT with another type of standardized test. Students are not being taught because the focus of the CRCT takes up valuable instructional time. Teachers are put in a bad situation when it comes to this test. No!, don't cheat, but it is not all the teachers or students fault.

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pberthoty 2 years, 3 months ago

The school system in Dougherty Co. is not bad enough that they have to cheat to "maintain their low ratings?" Half the schools in Dougherty Co. were found to have been flagged for cheating. Some of these school teachers were told by their administration, principals or others, to allow this. Considering the amount of schools involved, this couldn't have been random and they must have gotten together to plot out how this was going to be done.

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Kdfatman02 2 years, 1 month ago

I live all the way in El Paso, Texas. And this can't be the news I would love to hear about in my home town. I just finished reading the Govenor's Report. YIKES and OUCH!!! Hard to believe I was a product of what was once a descent school district. I'm a college graduate and retired from the Army. This is totally "Child Endangenrment, if not Child Abuse". DCSS could not print enough money if this was a molestation/rape case to keep the hound from coming to this county. Fire every last one of the principal and teachers. This is the very reason why some many people was against Brown vs. Board of Education in the first place. SMDH!!!

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