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Atlanta Public Schools: Cheating Teachers Face First Punishments

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TEACHERS CHEATING
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About a dozen Atlanta educators implicated in the district's cheating scandal find out Thursday whether Georgia education officials will strip them of their teaching certificates, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Thursday's decisions will mark the first round of punishments being handed to any of the 180 APS employees implicated in one of the largest scandals of cheating on tests among teachers in history. The product of a two-year investigation, a report released this summer named those employees in 44 district schools as involved in test tampering that inflated standardized test scores.

The Professional Standards Commission was charged with hearings and can issue punishments to educators found guilty that range from a warning to a certificate revocation. As a general guideline, teachers face two years suspension and administrators face certificate revocation -- but decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, according to the AJC.

The commission's decisions are independent of interim Superintendent Erroll Davis' efforts to dismiss guilty educators or charge them criminally.

The commission faces months of hearings and decisions in an effort to clean up what the two-year investigation found to be a culture of cheating, fear and intimidation among district schools and educators.

The threat of teacher suspensions or certificate revocations come amid the trickling of implicated educators out of the system through dismissals or retirements, while the district rapidly tries to find permanent replacements for vacated positions or temporary slots occupied by substitutes and school librarians.

All the changes are also being implemented as APS faces a $20 million shortfall and is considering furlough days to reduce costs. But holding the district back are the $1 million monthly costs for handling the cheating scandal: the hearings, investigations and paid time off for implicated educators.

The fate of cheating teachers in Atlanta is a departure from the punishment cheating teachers in Connecticut received this week. Twelve teachers who were involved in a Connecticut test tampering scandal at Hopeville Elementary School are losing 20 days pay and must serve 25 hours of community service by tutoring students after school, the Republican American reported.

The two educators found to be leaders of the cheating ring, however, faced tougher punishments. Hopeville Principal Maria Moulthrop is fighting possible dismissal while reading teacher Margaret Perugini announced her retirement last week rather than face termination proceedings.

The punishments for teachers are just some of many that will face school districts across the country -- from Washington D.C. to Pennsylvania -- that have launched investigations into allegations of cheating among educators.

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