ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Professional Standards Commission has suspended Monroe High School Principal Valerie Thomas for 90 days without pay in the wake of the Dougherty County School System's 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) cheating scandal.
The PSC ruling, issued Feb. 22, determined Thomas, who was principal at Lamar Reese Magnet School at the time of the cheating, had failed to adequately supervise testing activity.
The PSC also revoked the certification for two years of former Jackson Heights Elementary teacher Rita Akiyode and issued a reprimand to former Sherwood Acres Elementary teacher Marguerite Williams. Neither teacher is currently employed by the DCSS.
The PSC Orders were received late Monday by Dougherty County Interim School Superintendent Butch Mosely.
According to the PSC's finding of fact, as principal at Lamar Reese during the 2009 CRCTs, Thomas "had ultimate responsibility for testing activities within the elementary school in question including supervising all testing activities to ensure strict test security. Statistical analysis confirmed that cheating took place at the school in question. (Thomas) failed to supervise testing activities."
The PSC order pointed out that according to Georgia Department of Education testing regulations, testing materials must be stored in a secure place accessible only to the principal and testing coordinator. The PSC said there were five keys to the reading nook where the 2009 CRCT materials were stored.
The PSC ordered that Thomas be suspended for 90 consecutive contract days. The period of suspension begins on March 22 and continues through Oct. 10.
Mosely said he has yet to make a decision on who will serve as interim principal at Monroe during Thomas' suspension.
In August 2011, the state launched a massive probe into CRCT cheating allegations throughout the DCSS's 16 elementary schools.
The probe lasted four months and resulted in a two-volume, 294-page report which accused 49 teachers and administrators of either outright cheating or failure to supervise.
After the state's report was released, 17 teachers or administrators resigned, retired or left the system. The remaining 32 were suspended until administrative tribunals could be conducted. Eight people were later cleared, and 24 tribunals were held. Some of the teachers accepted suspensions, two were fired and others were recommended to return to work by the three-member panels.
After the tribunal phase, DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman was required by law to turn over all 49 case files to the PSC for final disposition.