While on vacation in Hawaii, former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Beverly Hall told WXIA TV on camera Wednesday that she "absolutely knew nothing about the cheating."
Hall references the cheating scandal in Atlanta schools that shook the country last week and "stunned" U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. An investigation of exam results from 2009 revealed widespread cheating among teachers on state standardized tests in various ways, including erasing wrong answers on students' multiple choice answer sheets and replacing them with correct ones. The report implicated 178 educators at almost 80 percent of 56 elementary and middle schools.
Hall was APS superintendent through the period of reported cheating. She announced her resignation last November. Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis replaced four superintendents and two principals this week as a result of the revelations. APS board member Khaatim El also announced his resignation Monday.
In a statement last week, Hall's lawyer issued a statement that reiterated Hall "most definitely did not know of any widespread cheating" on the 2009 examinations, or on tests administered during any other year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The AJC first broke the news of last week's report.
Apparently, not one of the 82 persons who allegedly "confessed" to cheating told the Investigators that Dr. Hall at any time instructed, encouraged, or condoned cheating. The Report's conclusion that Dr. Hall actually knew of any such cheating is based entirely on supposition. The further conclusion that Dr. Hall "should have known" rests on negative inferences from selective, circumstantial evidence.
The WXIA reporter who caught Hall on vacation pressed the former superintendent on her knowledge of teachers cheating, to which Hall repeated several times that she had "no further comment," directing the reporter to the statements she has released.
Hall also posted a separate statement on the Atlanta Education Fund's Facebook page last week, writing that she's "disturbed" by statements from teachers revealing their fear of speaking out against the known cheating for fear of retaliation.
Hall writes in her post:
To the extent that I failed to take measures that would have prevented what the Investigators have disclosed, I am accountable, as head of the school system, for failing to act accordingly. I sincerely apologize to the people of Atlanta and their children for any shortcomings. If I did anything that gave teachers the impression that I was unapproachable and unresponsive to their concerns, I also apologize for that. Where people consciously chose to cheat, however, the moral responsibility must lie with them. I do not apologize for the reforms my staff and I implemented during my tenure as superintendent.
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