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School chiefs take fifth

ALBANY — Three Dougherty County School System principals invoked their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when questioned by state investigators looking into alleged CRCT cheating within the DCSS, multiple sources told The Albany Herald Wednesday.

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Murfree

State investigators have narrowed their focus to 11 schools, and have conducted more intensive interviews at nine schools with two remaining.

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Richard Hyde

DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree and system attorney Tommy Coleman met with investigators Mike Bowers, Richard Hyde and Robert Wilson Tuesday and were updated as to the progress of the second phase of the probe.

“That information really doesn’t need to be made public, but I am sure you are going to write about it anyway,” Murfree said when asked about the meeting. “But you’ll have to talk with someone else to have that discussion.”

In August, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards appointed Bowers, a former Georgia Attorney General, and Wilson as special assistant district attorneys. Edwards’ move gave the team the power to issue warrants.

“I think there is a great probability that indictments will be issued,” said one of the Herald’s sources. “They (investigators) want to remove some people from the system.”

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 is 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 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 56 Atlanta schools. Dougherty County had the state’s second-highest number at 14 flagged, more than half of the system’s 26 schools.

CRCT investigators, bolstered by 15 special agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, began the DCSS investigation in early August and wrapped up the probe’s initial phase on the 15th of this month.

Neither Bowers nor Hyde returned calls requesting comment.

Comments

freddiejane 2 years, 6 months ago

Are you kidding, Murfree and these leaders took the fifth to protect themselves instead of helping investigator get to the bottom> Fire or arrest Murfree just for bing dumb and for impeding the investigation,

This guy still was rank #34 at the bottom of the list, so GBI and the Governor work would all be in vain if they leave this clown in office. Send the right message. Fire him or give him the chance which he will not take to resign.

another dumb move by Murfree, who has been quite as a church mouse since he came back from his summoned trip to Atlanta Office of the DOE and the Investigators. Smart boy keep your mouth shut or__fill in the blank

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

Now if you are taking the fifth, aren't you saying I'm guilty but I won't help you convict me? You already know that if you lie to the Investigator you are committing an additional crime. So I believe if these folks manage to get by the investigation without criminal charges, their employment still needs to be terminated. After all they disobeyed a directive by the Superintendant to cooperate fully. Thats insubordination and failure to follow instructions isn't it?

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guardian 2 years, 6 months ago

You cannot compel someone to provide self-incriminating statements and then prosecute them criminally. An administrative investigation can run parallel to a criminal investigation, but any incriminating statements or admissions made during the administrative investigation cannot be used in a criminal investigation or court proceeding.

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

Good try, but that isn't what I said. I said they committed violations of the terms of employment. Taking the fifth is not fully cooperating with the investigation. Has nothiong to do with criminal standards. Has everything to do with conditions of employment. If they chose to take the fifth and not cooperate, they knowingly ignore the directive of their superior and should expect consequences. At that level the only consequences appropriate are termination with cause and no severance or unemployment. It is their right to protect themselves from self incrimination, but they should also realize the other half of the coin.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 6 months ago

Walt, after many conversations with the investigators and associated lawyers, I believe they aren't really interested in putting anyone in jail. Their goal is to remove the bad apples from the system as quickly as possible. And I think that's what's going to happen.

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guardian 2 years, 6 months ago

We're saying the same thing...the fifth amendment does not apply in an administrative investigation.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

Nothing will happen in Albany, you can be sure. That is the root of the matter in DCSS. They will all blame Sally Whatley and they hope it will go away. Sally is probably the only innocent party in the whole nutshell. She did not give the tests and probably thought that her employees were of good character to not cheap. She found out differently.

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truthsayer 2 years, 6 months ago

what a moron this #34 is. Everytime he opens that trap ignorance spews forth like the fountain of youth. What do you mean " it doesn't need to be made public''. What a assinine comment, public tax money pays the bills and your over payed arse. You ought to be paid according to experience, which you have none, so I reckon you really need to work for free, maybe get some on the job experience when you get tired of hiding all you can from the taxpayers of Ebony. Well good luck with that.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 6 months ago

Murfree doesn't seem to understand that the public has a right to know since we pay their salaries. Not made public is what they want, but it would be against the law to withhold the information.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 6 months ago

freddiejane, I'd like to point out that Murfree did not take the fifth. He is not under investigation.

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freddiejane 2 years, 6 months ago

I know he did not take the fifth, but he is under investigation for impeding the investigation by tell the employee not to cooperate with the investigation and to only speak to him. This in itself is a crime and he being the so called supertendant should be held to a higher standard. Clean house and bring the right persons to lead our children into the future. Murfree has no idea of leadership, post education or the job he was hired to do. Shame that you cannot see this.

He put himself in front of the governor's investigation by interferring and should be held accountable. Fire him and bring and experienced supertendant.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 6 months ago

Murfree is not under investigation for anything. He backed off in early August when informed he could be charged with obstruction. The school board is responsible for the hiring (or firing) of the superintendent. If you want to kick off change, it has to start there.

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freddiejane 2 years, 6 months ago

Terry, I agree with you to a point. WHen Murfree backed off, the damage has been done. You cannot unring a bell. He should have shut up as Mrs. Whatley did. No one is school Murfree how to deal with the media or learn how to shut up. Noothing but B_ST comes out of this guys mouth each time he opens it. He is not the right person for our kid top educator, not at all.

THe hired him, but the governor and GBI can remove him and several board members.

Murfree is in one word, DUMB, may I add AS HELL!

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supersquawker 2 years, 6 months ago

Murfree's arrogance astounds me. But it doesn't surprise me.

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saweir 2 years, 6 months ago

What everyone is forgetting is the fact that while these school employees are trying to save themselves or doing poor teaching jobs they are hurting the pupils. Ask some graduates from Albany to read and see how they are doing. Ask them to add or multiply a figure and see how they respond

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Trustbuster 2 years, 6 months ago

The 5th protects people from self-incrimination in a criminal proceeding. Most people assume that if an accused takes the 5th that they have something to hide. Whether people like it or not it is a constitutional protection. What really troubles me is that these educators are probably protecting their colleagues from further investigation. More investigations are coming. This is a sad day for the county school system.

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supersquawker 2 years, 6 months ago

Upon Further Reflection......all Y'all liars and cheaters better plead the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th if you want to excape from this impending doom! Meanwhile them childrens just wants to learn and they not.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

No, them children do not care if they ever learn. If they can use their cell phones, that is all they care about!

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Alb5any 2 years, 6 months ago

Terrylewis. Stop trying to disagree with everyone bc you think Murfree is right. Murfree is an ignorant and arrogant man...he's pathetic at running the school system. He told teachers and people with any information to not go to the officials but to him...that's is the dumbest thing to say in his position...and even dumber for the fools that trusted him and took his advice. smh...

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 6 months ago

Just Saying!!!!!! While we are talking about #34 and the School board, your property tax bills are arriving now. I ask everyone to look at how much of your tax money is going to the Schools compared to the amounts for the city and county. Makes me so happy to be a taxpayer knowing we have people like this deciding how much to take from us.

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bubbavet 2 years, 6 months ago

MURFREE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE FIFTH ALL ALONG. THEN HE MIGHT NOT HAVE APPEARED SO TOTALLY STUPID ALL THE TIME. I SAID "MIGHT" IF THAT IS POSSIBLE.

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Margie 2 years, 6 months ago

Some of you need to read, and with understanding. Murfree is not under investigation, but the former leader is, but I am sure that in the end her plate will be clean. I was not at all in favor of Murfree being selected as superintendent of the school system, However, since this invertigatation begin, the attacks have been against him, instead of the person that was in charge at the time. Whately was in charged, not Murfree. Furthermore, he didn't take the 5th, why would he when he is not being investigated. For those that took the 5th, it is legal, whether some of you like it or not. Some teachers will have charges brought against them, some will lose their job. Cheating is wrong, and what was done was wrong. The NO Child Left Behind crap was wrong, and proposed it and voted for it was wrong for doing so. It has done more harm than good to students and teachers. whatever happen to teaching, and students being graded based on their performance and mastery of the curriculum. A student should not be held back for not passing a test, especially when they are doing passing work in the classroom. It is and will be a sad day in Dougherty County School System.

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freddiejane 2 years, 6 months ago

Let's be fair about the fact and make no mistake about it. Murfree was hired by the school board majority vote. He did not have a public forum for us as parents to question him and his qualification to be supertendent.

He was listed as #34 , the bottom of the list of applicants who applied. Should the school board member have cancelled the list if the first 5 or 10 ore ven 15 candidates did not accepted or were qualified. No, they reached way to the bottom to get the person they knew was not qualified to run our school system, just because he was black and surely not qualified. They did not care; our kids will pay the price.

In Dourherty County most 5th, 6th graders and up cannot not even read, better jet understand basis math. If Murfree is not under invetigation for chaeting, he should be under investigation for cheating on his qualification to become supertendent.

Fire him on just principles, and he should resigned as other principals will or have done. The governor and GBI goal is to clean up the system. DO NOT LEAVE THIS DUMB GUY BEHIND TO MESS UP ALL THEIR HARD WORK.

Yes, I am a black person and this crap about having a black supertendent is BS, get us someone who is QUALIFIED, no matter what color they are. And yes, you people here in Albany are so far behind. And yes I am moving my family out of this sick city.

Dumb, dumb dumb....

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

Did any of you touting the "Fifth" listen to Tommy Coleman the other night. He pointed out the Fifth only applies to Criminal prosecution. Not administrative recourse. The Supreme Court of the US has held it is legal to hold employees accountable for pleading the Fifth. The case in New Jersey of the Police Officer was the example he held up. So if this School Board has the gumption, those Fifth takers are history. Anyone want to bet a Chili Dog as to how Junebug will vote?

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RenayJones30 2 years, 6 months ago

I am so sick and tired of these School Board Members. They picked the worst candidate possible to get the job to help our students succeed. He is the dumbest Superintendant of schools that i have ever heard of. He does the worst things possible for the students and our school system. He should have never been hired, and yes he was only hired because he was black and he had friends on the school board and that is a shame. We need to get rid of the School Board members and Commissioners because neither of these people are doing a good job.

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