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First teachers to face tribunal agree to 60-day suspensions

ALBANY — The first four teachers to appear before an administrative hearing in connection with CRCT test cheating scandal within Dougherty County's elementary schools on Tuesday agreed to 60-day suspensions without pay.

Terrell County attorney T. Gamble was the hearing officer and the tribunal was made up of current and former school administrators, including Scott Chestnutwood of Tifton, Wanda West of Macon and Jack Willis of Panama City Beach, Fla.

Chestnutwood is a retired superintendent of Tift County Schools. West is a member of the Bibb County Board of Education. Willis is a retired Wheeler County Elementary School principal.

Earlier in the morning session, Chris Cohilas, the attorney for Jennifer Smith of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and Alberta Wallace of Sherwood Acres, and the school system attorney Flin Coleman said they had reached the 60-day suspension without pay agreement, which now must be approved by the administrative tribunal.

"Undeniably there was organized cheating going on, and it was coming from administrators." Cohilas told the tribunal. "We (he and Wallace) talked long and hard about litigating before this tribunal, but the agreement is fair and we humbly ask that you accept it."

Later in the afternoon, Turner Elementary's Fatima Jackson, represented by Maurice King, and Lavonda Jolivette, represented by Herbert Benson, also agreed to identical 60-day suspensions without pay.

Coleman cited pressure for their to well on the tests was the incentive for most of the teachers. That brought a sharp response from tribunal member Jack Willis.

"Pressure is what teaching is all about," said Willis. "What kind of message are we sending to our children?'

All four teachers in Tuesday's session were accused of prompting students to change some answers - a violation of signed CRCT testing protocol - but were not accused of organized cheating.

The tribunal has to act within five days. At that point, their recommendation will go before the school board which will have the opportunity to accept or reject the recommendation.

All three of the tribunal members declined comment about the cases, with Willis adding he did not want his comments to possibly prejudice future appearances before the panel.

The appearance of the four teachers on Tuesday leaves 15 DCSS educators remaining to appear before the tribunals.

In December, an investigative team consisting of former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb County District Attorney Robert Wilson, former Atlanta police detective Richard Hyde and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents completed a four-month probe into alleged CRCT in the system’s 16 elementary schools.

The resulting 293-page report cited a “failure of leadership at all levels, including the Board of Education, contributed to cheating in DCSS.”

The report named 49 system teachers and administrators. Over the past few months, some of the teachers and principals resigned or retired, some were were fired and some were no longer in the system.

The BOE reassigned 12 teachers to the Isabella Complex and removed three principals to the Exceptional Students Program.

Those teachers and administrators were among 24 whose contracts were not renewed by the system in mid June.

In late June, five teachers who had been cited in the state investigators’ report were rehired by the board, while two paraprofessionals were terminated. At that time DCSS Attorney Tommy Coleman said in those five cases the school system couldn’t find evidence to corroborate the state report.

Comments

ontario1966 1 year, 8 months ago

Slap on the hand? That's Albany Ga. For you!

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

Parents, keep up with the names and ask that your child be moved from their classrooms.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 8 months ago

Gov. Deal admits to ethics violations, teacher agree to deal. Finally, we're heading in the right direction.

Deals for truth and honesty.

Surely we want to keep the Deal in office!

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waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

Surely, according to you, all these folks were innocent. I will wait on those actually facing criminal charges. Although I think both of us know what a joke that is.

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Jacob 1 year, 8 months ago

That is your children's future being flushed down the toilet that you hear in the distance. We feel pity for them that you and your ilk would rather sell them down the river that admit that someone of color was corrupt and dishonest and is not worthy of the title of teacher. Invest in private prisons and police car manufacturers if you have some cash to invest.

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Royalstar 1 year, 8 months ago

When did Flin Coleman become the school attorney?

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 8 months ago

He was representing the DCSS in his capacity as an attorney at Perry and Walters, the school system's law firm.

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Progressive 1 year, 8 months ago

? to Teacher: did you know what you were doing was wrong when you prompted the students to change their answers?

Teacher = No sir, I was just doing what I was trained to do.

? to Teacher: when you went to school and you took a test, did you know that getting assistance from someone else during a test was wrong and is considered cheating?

Teacher = No sir, I have always received help when I was in school.

Now we know.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 8 months ago

The entire investigation is questionable and political, the leader has admited to ethics violations, lets hope he admit to the truth and intent of the investigations.

I would have liked for these teachers to have gone to court, I guess they were looking out for the students, by not dragging them through the legal proceedings.

Teachers are special and they will overcome!Just like the Gov who admitted to ethics violations. I'm sure we will forgive him, I have, what about you?

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Progressive 1 year, 8 months ago

Open your eyes so that you may see. Why would a teacher agree to a 60 day suspension if they were innocent? You have the gall to say "the entire investigation is questionable and political". Talk about a "hidden agenda", you must really have one. Please get off of the funny weed, and try to focus on reality. There has been wide spread cheating going on all over the country to get the federal TAX dollars into their school system.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

If you HAVE forgiven someone........you don't bring it up every time you open your mouth. Hypocrit.

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erudite 1 year, 8 months ago

Dude. Forgiving is emotional; negative sanctions for negative behavior is rational. It's the separation of church vs. state thing; forgiving does not cut it in a court of law or in any session where there are clear rules, with consequences, about behavior.

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MRKIA 1 year, 8 months ago

AT LEAST THESE " PLEA AGREEMENTS" ARE FINDING OF GUILT OR CULPABILITY. LET'S HOPE THAT THOSE TEACHERS RETURNING TO THE CLASSROOM GAIN SOMETHING FROM THE EXPERIENCE, OR THEIR INEXPERIENCE.

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VSU 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, at least it isn't 60 days with pay like they normally do around here.

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

They encouraged kids to cheat and they get to keep their jobs teaching more kids. That's incredible. What a valuable lesson for the children. It's OK to be dishonest. If you get caught, you get two months off.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 8 months ago

Do you think the Gov should keep his job?

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MisterEd 1 year, 8 months ago

So for 60 dyas, these teachers will sit around while the school system has to pay substitute teachers to man the classrooms, and then the "real" cheaters, er teachers, will come back and take over.

Sounds like a helluva good idea.

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tywebb 1 year, 8 months ago

one good thing......the money the system is NOT paying the teachers will be used to pay the substitutes, who make alot less, so, in the end it's saving the school system money. Go figure

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Maydog 1 year, 8 months ago

Hopefully the tribunal will not accept these terms.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

Cohilas told the tribunal. "Undeniably there was organized cheating going on” and then someone says “I guess they were looking out for the students, by not dragging them through the legal proceedings.” ROFLMAO so suddenly it is all about what is best for the kids…..

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wino3800 1 year, 8 months ago

Wow!!! Our school system is a complete joke. How can people tolerate this? This must be the most corrupt city in our country. Time to move.

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erudite 1 year, 8 months ago

I am thankful I do not have children in this system.

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Jacob 1 year, 8 months ago

Hopefully, you haven't procreated at all..

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

"...DCSS Attorney Tommy Coleman said in those five cases the school system couldn’t find evidence to corroborate the state report."

That's because Tommy Coleman couldn't find his ass with both hands. Call in a math teacher from Darton to explain it to you. Then you will have evidence coming out the wazzoo and piling up on the floor.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Probability of being struck by lightning: 1 in 1 Million (1/1,000,000) Probability of accidental erasures wrong to right: 1 in 15 Billion. (15/1,000,000,000)

Starting to get it?

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director1217 1 year, 8 months ago

One of the ones he couldn't find evidence is his church member and her friends.....he didn't look for any evidence. They did the same as the others.

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