ALBANY, Ga. -- The lead investigator for Gov. Nathan Deal's probe of possible Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating in the Dougherty County schools says that several local teachers have confessed or provided tips that have helped his team before it returns "in force" to Albany when school starts next month.
The confessions and tips were first reported Wednesday on albanyherald.com.
"We'll be back (in Albany) in full strength in mid-August," Richard Hyde said. "We've already had a number of teachers confess or provide us information. We are pleased with the men and women who have come forward and we think we will ultimately be as successful in Albany as we were in Atlanta."
It was unclear if the teachers admitted to wrongdoing themselves, or told investigators that they had observed improper activities.
"We are certain there are concerned teachers, administrators and parents down there who want to do the right thing," Hyde said.
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.
The findings in 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 Atlanta public schools had been involved in the cheating.
Of the 178 system employees, 82 confessed to misconduct. Six principals pleaded the Fifth Amendment. The report concluded that those six -- and 32 more -- were either involved with or should have known that cheating was going on in their schools.
The report added the Atlanta cheating was widespread and had been going on since as far back as 2001.
In continuing fallout from the report, Interim Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis replaced four area superintendents with principals on Monday and former school board chairman Khaatim Sherrer El announced his resignation.
"We will be coming to Albany with a clean slate," Hyde said. "We are looking for facts and we hope that the people in the education system down there will continue to cooperate."
Hyde added that one person who had not been cooperative was DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree.
"I don't get the superintendent. He wasn't even in the job in 2009," Hyde said.
Murfree said Wednesday he was surprised by Hyde's comment
"Anybody that says I'm not being cooperative needs to come down here and say that to me," Murfree said. "We're getting a lot of mixed messages from Atlanta. I want to speak to Richard Hyde, and I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door. I have never had any contact with Richard Hyde, he's never met with me.
"I want people to tell the truth. That's what people need to hear."
Hyde said the lack of cooperation did not stem from any refusal by Murfree to meet with him, but from Murfree's actions when he sent investigators into the Dougherty schools. Hyde said Murfree has shown up when investigators were in the schools and obstructed their work.
Much like in the Atlanta investigation, Hyde expects to offer immunity to teachers and administrators who step forward with information.
"It is within our power to offer immunity to those who come to us and tell the truth," he said.
The governor's office has set up a hotline for tips and leads: 1 (404) 962-3849.