GBI to visit Dougherty Schools soon

ALBANY, Ga. -- The investigation into the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the Dougherty County School System is ongoing, and soon will attract law enforcement officials to Albany.

A dozen agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are expected to come into Dougherty County within the next month to

assist with the investigation.

An investigation regarding a concerning number of erasures from the 2009 tests was also taking place in the DeKalb County school system, which delayed the GBI's arrival to Albany.

"There is a larger problem there in terms of size and activity," said Tommy Coleman, attorney for the Dougherty County Board of Education.

Investigators are still looking into the erasures in Atlanta, so the precise date of the GBI's arrival to Albany is still up in the air, Coleman added.

Twenty-four DeKalb County teachers were pulled from classroom duty in January in relation to the probe. On Tuesday, Stoneview Elementary Assistant Principal Derrick Wooten was indicted by a grand jury on charges that he altered attendance records to help the Lithonia school meet Adequate Yearly Progress criteria. While that was not related to any test-cheating, it was uncovered during the internal investigation into the CRCT erasures.

So far, 50 employees with the Dougherty School System have been interviewed as part of the investigation -- which has not yet yielded any negative results.

"They've found no 'smoking gun,'" said Coleman. "We want to provide what information they require, and we've told all the faculty and staff to be truthful.

"We've got a cloud and we've got to have the cloud removed one way or another."

There are interviews still to be conducted, followed by a report. The investigation in Albany is expected to wrap up sometime in the fall, Coleman said.

The Dougherty and Atlanta school systems were directed last year by the Georgia Board of Education to conduct investigations into the erasure concerns, which were found to be "insufficient in scope and depth." An executive order was signed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue to bring in independent investigators.

On Oct. 13, Perdue signed another executive order allowing the GBI to assist the appointed investigators. At the time, a spokesperson for the GBI told The Albany Herald that investigations would be conducted in Atlanta before the agents came down to Albany.