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