Atlanta schools cheating probe faces scrutiny | ajc.comI'm beginning to wonder if APS should be involved in education at all.
The head of Atlanta Public Schools promised an impartial inquiry into reports of cheating on state achievement tests. Recusing herself, Superintendent Beverly Hall declared the investigation would be conducted by “a respected outside organization.”
Five months later, the investigation remains incomplete, and questions have emerged that challenge its independence.
The “blue-ribbon” commission appointed to oversee the investigation is populated with business executives and others who have done business with the school district or who have other civic or social ties to the district or to Hall.
One of the firms chosen to run the inquiry also is a school district vendor, having collected $1.7 million for other work performed as recently as 2008.
And, raising perhaps the most serious doubts, the district has been far more involved in investigating itself than originally suggested. Administrators from the district’s central office took part in questioning lower-level educators at all but a dozen of the 58 Atlanta schools under scrutiny. High-ranking district officials — described by a spokeswoman as “director-level” employees — took charge of conducting interviews at two dozen of the schools.
The district’s role in the investigation represents “a major conflict of interest,” said Barbara Payne, executive director of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation. “APS should not be involved in any of these reviews. APS should not be involved at all.”