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Bowers aims to have CRCT report to Deal by Dec. 16

ALBANY, Ga. — Gov. Nathan Deal’s lead investigator into Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating within the Dougherty County School System said Friday that his goal is to have a final report on Deal’s desk by the end of next week.

“We are still writing the report,” former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers said Friday. “We should turn it in to the governor at the end next week. When he releases it after that is up to him.”

The four-month investigation focused on 11 of 16 DCSS elementary schools. Sources tell The Albany Herald that the final report will include eight principals and 40 teachers.

“I cannot confirm that number,” Bowers said. “Nothing is definite right now. We really can’t say a lot until we give the report to the governor.”

Two weeks ago, the School Board approved a list of nine people who will be empaneled as tribunals to review the individual cases of administrators and teachers caught up in the investigation.

In late October, DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree acknowledged for the first time that some school administrators and teachers will probably lose their jobs.

“We are prepared; we’re not just sitting around waiting on the final report,” Murfree said then. “We are on point and ready to take action, but we are also not going to just throw anyone under the bus.”

At that time Murfree’s unveiled his initial blueprint for dealing with the crisis.

The plan, entitled “The CRCT: The Proactive Stance For Achievement,” lists eight areas of focus, among them identifying the possibility of lost positions; preparing the community; holding news conferences to keep students, teachers, administrators and the community updated, and moving forward in the probe’s aftermath.

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

State officials were concerned that at some schools in Atlanta and Dougherty County there were unusually high numbers of corrections. The findings of state investigations into Atlanta’s schools 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.

Dougherty County had the state’s second-highest number of flagged schools with 14, more than half of the system’s 26 schools. The probe narrowed the focus to the 11 local elementary schools.

CRCT investigators, bolstered by 15 special agents from the GBI, began the DCSS investigation in early August and wrapped up the interview portion of the probe last month.