Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree said Wednesday he was pleased that Gov. Nathan Deal's office has confirmed the investigation into possible cheating on Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests administered in Dougherty County in 2009 has been terminated.

Spokesperson Stephanie Mayfield confirmed Wednesday the end of the probe, saying, "Yes, the AP is correct."

On Tuesday, Deal's representatives released an outline of findings from the state's investigation in the administration of the Atlanta public schools. The original probe had included the Dougherty County School System, which was not mentioned in Tuesday's report.

"When I became superintendent of the Dougherty County School System in 2010, I stated from the beginning that there is nothing to hide and that I would support our teachers and leadership in regards to the on-going investigation," Murfree said.

"We have the best leaders and teachers in the country and when we put our arms around them and support them we will see a great improvement in the education of our children. We are happy that Gov. Deal has dropped the investigation of our system based on the results of the investigations that were carried out in 2009 and 2010.

"His office indicated agreement with our investigations that no cheating was found."

The AP reported on Tuesday that a governor's office spokeswoman said the Dougherty probe was dropped because Deal was satisfied with the internal investigation that the DCSS conducted into wrong-to-right erasures on the CRCT in spring 2009. The tests were taken by students in grades one through eight.

That internal investigation showed no cheating.

DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman said he was not surprised the state was dropping its probe.

"I think they (investigators) came down here and saw we were being open and honest. We gave them everything they requested," Coleman said. "I think we provided adequate proof that there was no cheating conspiracy within the system and that it was not necessary for them to go forward with the investigation."

DCSS Testing and Evaluation Coordinator Renee Bridges said the schools and test administrators never tried to game the system.

"I am very proud of the protocol and procedures that have been established and I know they have always been carried out. These procedures have checks and balances to safeguard security and ensure integrity," Bridges said. "I respect and have confidence in the test administrators at each school and the job that they do. We in Dougherty County know that no one wins nor is anything gained from trying to beat the system."

While the pain is over for the local school school system, things are starting to gather momentum in Atlanta.

Among other things, the governor's report found cheating in 44 of the 56 schools examined and that 178 teachers and principals in the APSS cheated.

Of the 178, 82 confessed to misconduct. Six principals pled the Fifth Amendment. These six, and 32 more, were either involved with or should have known that cheating was going on in their schools.

The report concluded the cheating was widespread and had been going on since as early as 2001.