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CRCT Investigators Seize Jackson Heights Computers

Investigators looking at memos and emails

ALBANY, Ga. — State investigators probing alleged cheating in 2009 by the Dougherty County School System on Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests confirmed that computers were seized from Jackson Heights Elementary School on Thursday.

A source has told The Albany Herald that Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents took possession of a number of computers and that they were looking for memos and emails suggesting a pattern of wrongdoing in regard to CRCT cheating at the school.

"I can only confirm that we have seized items that have evidentiary value," CRCT investigator Richard Hyde said when contacted Thursday afternoon. "I cannot confirm that computers were taken. In fact, I cannot comment what was taken or from where the evidence was seized."

The seizure represents an uptick in the state investigation, which began here on Aug. 8. Just last week, investigators began administering polygraph tests to some witnesses and suspects.

"The items are currently in possession of the GBI and we'll know more next week after we see what we find," Hyde said. "But I can tell you that we are learning more every day because of the cooperation from students, parents, teachers and principals.

"We're getting new leads each day and we are following up on them."

The investigation into the exams administered to first- through eighth-graders in Atlanta and Dougherty County began in August 2010 at the direction of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. At issue is the number of erasures on the 2009 CRCTs in which wrong answers were corrected.

State officials were concerned that at some of the schools there were too many of those corrections, and eventually focused on Atlanta and Dougherty County.

The findings of state investigations into Atlanta's school districts 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.

A preliminary probe in February of last year flagged the 56 Atlanta schools. Dougherty County had the state's second-highest number flagged at 14.

Comments

Moe 3 years, 3 months ago

Let's be honest. Does any of this surprise anyone?

We had a DA's office that was run for twelve years by a political prostitute.

Our city and county commissions are run by the most corrupt people imaginable who treat property owners and taxpayers with contempt.

Our downtown manager was a convicted felon (and it only cost us $15,000 to find and hire him). Roger Marietta and Bob Langstaff still won't tell us what ADICA's board was doing regarding oversight of monies and what its lawyer was being paid thousands of dollars to "advise on" before the scandal broke.

We build one government building after another and fill them with idiots who live like parasites off the taxpayers.

We fund organizations like Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful while they harrass businesses.

Our school system just hired the least qualified person they could find to be superintendant.

Crime is rampant. Killings occur bi-weekly, if not daily.

Government corruption is NEVER prosecuted and God forbid you should try to fire a corrupt or incompetent city employee.

At least we're still the "Good Life City"

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J.D._Sumner 3 years, 3 months ago

Moe, you are so dramatic. To clear the record lets look at some issues you've pointed out in an effort to be fair.

Point 1: No comment here because I was here only a brief period under Hodges but I will say that as long district attorneys are elected, there will always be politics involved.

Point 2: General "corrupt government" statement. Ineffective leaders dont mean corrupt Contempt for taxpayers? Your millage rate hasnt gone up in Doco since the state mandated the reval on property assessments in 2007. (I'll qualify that to say that the city and county havent raised taxes, I'm not sure about the school system, which btw, is responsible for almost half your tax bill.

Point 3: Alfred Lott screwed the pooch hiring Buie, as did Slavin the headhunter. Buie did his sentence, was run out of town and paid his restitution and as long as he doesnt come back, I'm a happy camper. As far as Marietta and Langstaff, why single them out? If, by your logic, ADICA had loose controls over their money while Buie was in charge, which they did, the entire commission, and ADICA board share in the responsibility. Oh and you forgot to mention that Jay Reynolds has been replaced as ADICA attorney and new fiscal controls are in place which will hopefully prevent the type of theft we saw with Buie.

Point 4: Im assuming you're talking about SPLOST here, so I cant argue. I think local government should be careful with sales tax dollars to not artificially inflate their budgets through increased operating costs.

Point 5: KADB is funded mostly by funds collected from the landfill's solid waste enterprise fund. I think the city threw some cash at them this year when the county had to reduce its funding. But funding KADB is a taxpayer decision. If you think it should go, comment less here and more to the city and county commission.

Point 6: Dr. Murfree's employement has been thoroughly documented. Not much to say there.

Point 7: Killings occur twice a month if not daily huh? So you're saying that there have 16 people killed this year, (biweekly) or 244 (as of Sept. 1). You are beyond ridiculous. Go to the APD's website and check out their crime stats. If you did, you'd see for Ytd through July 2011 and the same period 2010, total crime is DOWN 13 percent. Violent crime is down 12.9 percent and property crime is down 13.4 percent. Your incorrect perception is that crime is rampant. Oh and as of July, there have been 8 murders. Half of your biweekly number.

Point 8: government corruption is never prosecuted? Buie. Brenda Robinson Cutler, Victor Edwards, Henry Mathis. As for firing city employees, well there is a shaky record there. Some they have tried, i.e. Mattie Goddard, Kathy Strang, etc. some they havent. Either way they get sued. So there is no winning.

This city is what you make it.

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waltspecht 3 years, 3 months ago

Now what kind of example will be set for, as Dr. Murfree puts it, the Children. Will cheating be rewarded of severly punished? They have already been rewarded from the benefits derived from the results of this cheating, now will they pay? Will the involved students be set back in lower classes? Will the Teachers and Administrators involved be removed, decertified and prosecuted? Or will reasonable accomodation be made so as not to cripple the DCSS by terminating to many of it's staff? All reasonable questions, based in logic not racism.

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Moe 3 years, 3 months ago

Jdsumner, Let me respond to specific items on your list. Reasonable minds may differ, but I think these illustrate my point:

1) ADICA: The investigation never went beyond Buie and (to some extent) LaJuana Woods. It has not been made clear what the ADICA board or its attorney was doing at their regular meetings which were intended to provide financial oversight of its management and monies. To this day, it has never been reported what was actually going on at these meetings and whether the books were ever examined by its board (this is their job) prior to the fraud becoming public. Remember, Buie's fraud took place over a period of months and had there been competent oversight, it would have been caught much sooner. Given the personalities involved and how LaJuana Woods got on the ADICA board (the Postell connection), there is no way this should have been investigated locally. If the GBI can be brought in to investigate elementary test scores, this is a worthy target. As to Marietta and Langstaff, they were well-known promoters of ADICA, an organization most taxpayers would regard as a waste.

2) "Corrupt government:" I will agree with you that there have been rare prosecutions, but comparing what Buie got (as a repeat offender, mind you) when he was prosecuted locally to what Henry Mathis got when the Feds prosecuted him is a little disingenuous. I know comparison wasn't your point, but again, it serves to illustrate why our local government is totally unable to police and investigate itself. Cutliff Grove?

3) KADB: Saying this organization isn't funded by taxpayers, but is funded by the landfill is distinguishing the right pocket from the left. Yet in spite of the taxpayer funding, KADB consistently takes positions that are anti-business and, thus, anti-job.

4) Waste IS ongoing. One example: The new "welcome to Albany" signs. Is this really the best use of funds in this economy? This is the same kind of project as the arches built over the Oglethorpe bridge. Our "leaders" haven't learned anything from their mistakes and when I see these items, I am disgusted when Sinyard and company regularly urge us to vote for more SPLOST. (BTW, I specifically credit your reporting on the Mediacom boondoggle as having prevented the city from buying yet another broken down building. Here again, though, this proves my point: Had the Herald NOT focused on this awful deal, there is no way politicians like Marietta would have flip-flopped and changed their vote, and we would have been stuck with another boondoggle). Another example? Vast sums were spent on the police sub-stations which are virtually never used. Last night, the only activity at the East Albany sub-station appeared to be a stray cat.

5) Crime is not rampant? Ask the man in the street that reads your paper (BTW, I acknowledge the murder stats and agree that it was a poor example I used, but violent crime does not appear to be in decline irrespective of what APD says).

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J.D._Sumner 3 years, 3 months ago

Well put Moe. Personally I agree with much of what you said. I've written columns and asked my commissioner specifically to vote against the signage matter because, even though most of it is being funded through a grant by DOT and the rest coming from sales taxes, the commission chose the more expensive of the two options they had facing them. I agree, money on the signs could be better spent, or better yet, not spent at all.

As far as ADICA goes, it wasn't investigated locally. It was prosecuted locally, but it was investigated by Agent Fred Wimberly with the GBI and his colleagues. It's routine, for investigations of this nature to be handed over the GBI as they are, at least on paper, an objective and uninvolved third party. The GBI then turned their file over to Christopher Cohilas, who prosecuted Buie.

I believe Jane Willson said when she resigned that the board failed on almost every level when it came to fiscal management. In fact, they all but abdicated their authority for financial matters to Buie. The real question, which is one even I can't crack, is how much money got poured away frivolously through ADICA and Albany Tomorrow long before Buie stepped foot into town. Apparently, a lot of the records were destroyed or lost when they closed down the office so there is hardly any paper trail.

The point, however, is that there are new controls in place, so, while people like me need to stay vigilant and make sure it never happens again, we have to give the new board -- which has almost all new members --- an opportunity to do their jobs. Or the community should push to abolish ADICA, but beating that dead horse isn't helpful to anyone.

And back to KADB, up until last year taxpayers did not fund it. Period. As I said before, KADB is primarily (and until last year soley) funded through Dougherty County's Solid Waste ENTERPRISE fund. That fund receives its revenues through tipping fees paid by users who bring in trash to the landfill. Now, I will give you the benefit of the doubt to say that, in a way, that's like a tax because the city is a customer of the County landfill and therefore has to pay the tipping fees which it translates to city residents in the form of a garbage bill, but it's a not a true county tax because people in the unincorporated areas aren't obliged to pay it. Regardless, if you think KADB is a bad organization and isn't business friendly, then, by all means, push for your elected official to abolish it or defund it. That's your right as a citizen of the city or county .

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on some things, but I still believe that while much of the criticisms you, me and others hurl at the city, county and school board are very much warranted and justified, its also important to remain fair.

Thanks for your comments.

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