ALBANY, Ga. — Richard Hyde, one of three special investigators looking into Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating in 11 Dougherty County elementary schools, said Tuesday that investigators still have “two or three interviews remaining,” and that the team plans to have a final report on Gov. Nathan’s Deal’s desk by Thanksgiving.
In addition, The Albany Herald has learned the names three school principals who invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during recent interviews.
According to sources familiar to the investigation, the three are Jackson Heights Principal Lazoria Brown, Martin Luther King Principal Carolyn Scott and West Town Principal Alene Pringle.
School Board Chairman James Bush said school system attorney Tommy Coleman was in the process of putting together a list of potential administrative tribunal members who will determine the fate of administrators and teachers named in the report.
“The superintendent (Joshua Murfree) will select the members of the tribunal,” Bush said. “The tribunal will return a list of names and recommendations and the board will act upon that basis.”
Coleman confirmed that he had a list of 10 to 15 names of potential tribunal members to present to the superintendent. He added that it was likely that no residents of Dougherty County would be included on the panel.
Coleman added that the tribunal would probably not be empaneled until early January, after the holiday season.
Investigator Mike Bowers said earlier this month that as many as 10 principals and 50 teachers could be named in the report. Those who do not resign will likely face the tribunal.
Two weeks ago, 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 11 elementary schools.
CRCT investigators, bolstered by 15 special agents from the GBI, began the DCSS investigation in early August and wrapped up the probe’s initial phase last month.