ALBANY, Ga. — The list of teachers and principals who were named in a state report Tuesday as having cheated on the 2009 CRCT exams include a former district teacher of the year for her school.
According to the report, Gloria Mosely, a teacher at Westtown Elementary, testified that she cheated at the direction of principal Alene Pringle who asked her to “look at the children’s answer sheets and make sure that most of them pass.” Mosely allegedly admitted to changing the math answers of her homeroom students.
The same year the cheating is alleged to have occurred, Mosely was named Westtown Elementary School’s teacher of the year.
Another high profile name on the list is that of Dougherty County Comprehensive High School Principal Jose Roquemore. At the time of the alleged cheating, Roquemore was principal at Morningside Elementary.
In the report, investigators stated “we conclude that Principal Roquemore violated O.C.G.A. § 20-2-989.20 by illegally ordering teachers to change students’ grades, or by coercing, intimidating or disciplining teachers for refusing to change students’ grades.
According to the report, Roquemore denied having knowledge of cheating when questioned by investigators. He reportedly said that Assistant Principal Maqueta Griswold handled all testing procedures and that “she was astute and good at her job.”
“He denied having access to where the tests were stored in 2009. He also denied directing or coercing teachers to change grades. He further denied prohibiting teachers from giving “low F’s.” Roquemore stated that he only encouraged teachers to work with students to help them raise their grades above failing,” the report states.
Mosley and Roquemore are just two of 49 names that were listed in the report. Many of the remaining teachers and principals are being represented by two local lawyers hired by the state’s two teachers unions to represent the teachers’ interests.
Howard Stiller, who is representing members of the Georgia Association of Educators, called the report “ambitious” and said that some of the conclusions that investigators drew from the investigation were unfounded.
“This entire report is based on a statistical analysis done on a computer outside the state of Georgia,” Stiller said. “The information that the report is based on, the original answer sheets, are locked 100 feet below ground in a bunker in Indiana and we’ll likely never get to see them.”
Stiller said that the burden now falls on the school system. It’s the system, he says, that will have to move to terminate anyone implicated in the report or to send information to the Professional Standards Commission should they want to revoke teaching credentials or to hand the case over to the district attorney should they feel laws were broken.
Christopher Cohilas, who is representing members of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said that he’s thankful that many of his clients were cleared by the report, but said that he anticipates being contacted by school system officials about any of his clients who did make the list.
“Many of clients were cleared, but there are some who investigators have drawn some particular conclusions on,” Cohilas said. “I look forward to working with the school system on behalf of my clients after the report has been thoroughly reviewed.”
While the report clears former Superintendent Sally Whatley of any wrongdoing or complicity in the scandal, it places the lack of oversight and responsibility that created an environment rife for cheating on her and the board of education’s shoulders.
The report said, “During Dr. Whatley’s tenure, the tendency of some board members to micromanage, and Dr. Whatley’s unwillingness to prevent them from doing so, placed the Board and Superintendent relationship in an unbalanced position and weakened the authority of the Superintendent. Dr. Whatley abdicated the authority she needed to correct, sanction or terminate educators.
“Due to the Board’s failure to support the Superintendent, and her refusal to assert herself, she could not fully and effectively administer matters of employee discipline.
“This superintendent/board relationship led to an impotent system of employee discipline. We are aware of numerous situations that demanded prompt termination or other significant action. The administration and the board found 110 ways to avoid terminations and often reduced punishments to an absurd sanction.
The end result was a system where there was little fear of the consequences for wrongdoing, therefore misconduct went unabated,” the report states.
The report also chastises Dianne Daniels, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, for being asleep at the wheel.
“While Daniels was the titular second-in-command and (testing coordinator Renee) Bridges fell under her supervision, she failed to involve herself in the testing process in any meaningful way. Her failure to actively participate in the oversight of the testing process helped create a leadership vacuum, and further empowered principals and teachers to act with a level of impunity whereby cheating occurred. Thus, she cannot absolve herself from contributing to the creation of an environment where this misconduct could fester,” the report says.