Atlanta Public Schools

Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A former Georgia Supreme Court Justice said a Fulton County judge “stepped over the line” in an interview with an Atlanta high school newspaper.

Former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, now back in private practice, said in an interview on “A Closer Look” that most judges are “loath to talk to members of the media” because “most are fairly suspicious.”

Ward Sears said that’s what made Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter’s interview with Grady High School’s newspaper so surprising.

Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This week's sentencing hearing in the APS cheating trial means defendants are just beginning the appeals process. Think of this as a fork in the road.

Fork one: file a motion for a new trial. Fork two: go straight to a court of appeals.

Each path could end up crossing the other down the line, but we'll set that aside for now. Whichever option defendants choose, lawyers will need a complete record of the trial.

“In this case it might take six months to a year to prepare this transcript," said Ed Garland, an Atlanta attorney not involved in the case.

APS headquarters
Nick Nesmith / WABE

Six years ago, the Atlanta Board of Education won the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban School Boards of Education's 2009 Award for Urban School Board Excellence.

That was before the big fallout over the APS cheating scandal.

Now, 11 former Atlanta Public Schools' educators are in jail after being convicted in the APS cheating trial.  

What's the message to school boards?

As the cheating scandal was revealed, members of the Atlanta Board of Education publicly squabbled with each other.

Judy Baxter /

In 2009, reporters at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noticed some suspicious trends in Atlanta Public Schools' standardized test scores.  

From there, they went on to uncover widespread cheating that eventually led to the indictment of dozens of educators.  

Eleven former Atlanta Public Schools educators, who pled not guilty to multiple charges, were convicted Wednesday.

Former Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Heather Vogell  helped uncover the story and recounted the case with "A Closer Look" hosts Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer.

Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Eleven former Atlanta Public Schools educators were found guilty on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges Wednesday, after months of testimony.

It was the longest jury trial in Georgia’s history.

Former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears talked about the significance of the verdicts and expressed her surprise at the RICO convictions on "A Closer Look" with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer.

At the Atlanta Public School trial, Kathleen Mathers continues her third day of testimony in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.
Kent Johnson / Associated Press

While the news of the verdicts in the APS cheating trial are making headlines, "A Closer Look" turned back to the state agency that sounded the alarm on cheating in Atlanta Schools system.

In 2009, Kathleen Mathers was the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. During the trial she showed the court specific schools that showed significant changes on the Criterion Reference Competency Test, or CRCT. Mathers testified that, after the school board's Blue Ribbon Commission failed to meet the state’s standard, the state began its own investigation.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

Council member Julian Bond says he wants the city of Atlanta to turn unused school properties – to which the city holds the deeds – into public parks.

He says the city is growing quickly, but doesn’t have enough green space, and it's not clear how much land is sitting empty, so he says the first step is to catalog it.

APS Cheating Trial Day 2: Live Tweets, Part 1

Sep 30, 2014
Fulton Senior ADA Clint Rucker questions witness Justina Collins during testimony Tuesday.
Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Rose Scott is covering the trial of the 12 former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of a conspiracy to raise school scores by changing the answers on student tests.  The trial enters its second day of testimony today.

Here are Rose's tweets from the morning of Tuesday, September 30.  They are arranged in chronological order.

Image courtesy of

Monday, August 4th, 2014 was the first day of school for many metro Atlanta students.

However, in some Atlanta schools lack of air conditioning and a lack of textbooks were an issue.

Chris Ferguson/WABE

The Atlanta Public School Board could soon vote on whether to develop a compact between traditional and charter schools in the district. The recommendation comes from a charter school task force for the board, which met Wednesday.

Task force members say the compact will allow the district to help bridge the divide between charter and traditional schools.  School Board member Byron Amos chairs the task force.

APS superintendent, Dr. Meria Carstarphen at the Atlanta Press Club luncheon sponsored by Communities in Schools, an organization that works to prevent students from dropping out.
Rose Scott / WABE

  The newly hired superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools says transition won’t be easy as APS tries to move on from the cheating scandal.

Speaking during at Atlanta Press Club luncheon, Dr. Meria Carstarphen today gave a glimpse into her vision for the district.  

WABE’s Rose Scott has more.

Standing before the APS board, business and philanthropic leaders and educational partners, Dr. Carstarphen says APS will undergo a culture change.

Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis says the abuse of two special needs students, at the hands of educators, is disgusting and disturbing.

It happened at Harper Archer Middle School.

WABE’s Rose Scott has more.

A special education teacher set-up a video recorder because she says her previous complaints were ignored.

Atlanta school superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen
WABE 90.1 FM/Dan Raby

Monday, Atlanta school board chair Courtney English called it a special moment after the board approved the hiring of the district’s new superintendent.

Dr. Meria Carstarphen was the sole finalist for the job.

WABE’s Rose Scott reports, Carstarphen is acknowledging the challenges, but also pledging assurances as APS looks to turn the corner from the nation’s largest cheating scandal.

Judge Denies Motion in APS Cheating Case

Apr 11, 2014
Rose Scott / WABE News

There’s analysis of erasures on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test that’s tied to the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

Should that analysis be part of the evidence in the court trial against defendants including former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall?

Defense lawyers today argued no. But, the Fulton County Superior Court Judge in the case denied the defense motion.

For Friday’s 5:44 segment with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer, WABE’s Rose Scott talked about arguments in court and the judge’s ruling.

Judge Postpones Beverly Hall's Trial Until August Due To Health Concerns

Apr 7, 2014
Dr. Beverly Hall
WABE 90.1 FM

TWEETS FROM THE COURTROOM: After a hearing where he heard competing views of Dr. Beverly Hall's health, Judge Jerry Baxter ruled that he will delay the trial of Dr. Hall until August because of her health.

Dr. Hall's oncologist, Dr. Laura Weakland of Georgia Cancer Specialists, testified about Dr. Hall's health at the request of Judge Baxter.  Dr. Hall has been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, and her lawyers had requested a delay of her trial.

Josh Pate

Web Exclusive:

Today, reporters talked to one of the attorneys representing former Atlanta Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.

Hall is arguably the highest profile defendant in the Atlanta schools cheating court case.

In a motion filed yesterday, Hall’s attorneys had asked the trial be delayed by 6-8 months because of Hall’s treatment for Stage IV breast cancer.

Attorney Richard Deane talked about that motion today in a press conference.

Kate McGee, education reporter for KUT, the NPR station in Austin, Texas
KUT News

On March 27, 2014, Dr. Meria Carstarphen was named the sole finalist for the job of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent.  

For the past five years, Carstarphen has headed the Austin Independent School District in Texas.  To find out how she did there, WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Kate McGee, an education reporter who covered Carstarphen for NPR station KUT in Austin.

WABE 90.1 FM

The lone finalist to become the next Atlanta Public Schools superintendent met with Governor Nathan Deal and then with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Friday.

If approved by the school board, Dr. Meria Carstarphen assumes a number of challenges including the most notable one.

That means rebounding from one of the darkest moments for APS.

Dr. Carstarphen was asked to reflect on what was called the nation’s largest cheating scandal.

WABE 90.1 FM

A lone finalist is likely the next superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.

Thursday, district officials introduced Dr. Meria Carstarphen as their choice for the next school chief.

Dr. Carstarphen is currently the superintendent for the Austin Independent School District in Texas.

As she walked into the library of Hope Hill Elementary, Dr. Meria Carstarphen gave high fives to the students seated on the floor.

When she addressed the room, she talked about coming home to another part of the South.

Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen (left), the only finalist for the position of APS superintendent, was introduced to the public and press late Thursday afternoon, March 27.
Rose Scott, WABE

Late this afternoon, the Atlanta Board of Education introduced the lone finalist for the position of Atlanta Public School superintendent at a press conference at Hope Hill Elementary School.

She is Dr. Meria Joel Carstaphen and is currently the superintendent of the Austin (Texas) Independent School District.  Dr. Carstaphen (pronounced car-STAR-fin) is a native of Selma, Alabama, who joined the Austin school system in 2009 as both its first African-American superintendent and its first female superintendent.

In this file photo from earlier this year, Dr. Beverly Hall attends a hearing with attorney Richard
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The presiding judge in the case against Atlanta educators in the cheating scandal wants everyone to be ready when the trial begins.

Fulton County Superior Court judge Jerry Baxter made it clear today during a status hearing where some of the remaining defendants were in attendance.

Former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall was not in court today.  

WABE’s Rose Scott reports on the news revealed about the former school chief.

Dr. Beverly Hall Battling Stage IV Cancer

Mar 18, 2014
Dr. Beverly Hall
WABE 90.1 FM

BREAKING -- WABE's Rose Scott has learned from a lawyer for Dr. Beverly Hall that his client is suffering from Stage IV cancer and is "gravely ill."

[Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Dr. Hall's lawyer had made this statement in court.  WABE regrets the error.]

Stage IV cancer is described by the National Cancer Institute as meaning that "the cancer has spread to distant tissues or organs."

APS Board Chairman Courtney English
Atlanta Public Schools

The recent announcement that nearly a dozen Atlanta school principals would not return in the fall led to a packed house at this week’s APS school board meeting.

District officials say the decision was part of a routine annual assessment and review process by Superintendent Erroll Davis.

Now, WABE’s Rose Scott reports, the APS board is backing the school’s chief decision.

APS board chair Courtney English says decisions like this are never easy, but the consensus is NOT to oppose Superintendent Erroll Davis.

WABE 90.1 FM

One of the attorneys for former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall says despite a recent plea from another APS executive, Hall is looking forward to clearing her name.

WABE’s Rose Scott has this report.

The district attorneys office says Few will testify against her former boss, APS superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.

On Monday, Millicent Few, the former human resources director of the Atlanta Public Schools, agreed to a plea deal with the Fulton County District attorney’s office.

"I  just want to sincerely apologize to the citizens of Atlanta and specifically the students and their parents for my role in this matter. It’s taken a toll on my family, my support network and myself. I just want to apologize to them and I look forward to hopefully moving on with my life.”  

Few has agreed to testify on behalf of the state in its case against former APS superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.

WABE 90.1 FM/Charles Edwards

What will it take to attract the next Atlanta Public Schools superintendent?

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed today stood by his idea to double the salary in order to attract what he calls the best in class.

Reed first talked about how to attract the best candidate in 2012.

In the first of two reports from WABE’s Michell Eloy and Rose Scott, new APS board chair Courtney English says the board doesn’t support the Mayor’s plan.

Scott C. King, APS

The Atlanta Public Schools will have a new superintendent, but the announcement won’t come until April.

The newly sworn in APS board will receive a list of finalists recommended by a search committee.

Selection of the next schools chief is the first major task for the board.

And as WABE’s Rose Scott reports, the newest board members say they’re ready to work.

In between the hugs, congratulations and photos being taken, the faces of the new members of the APS board were all smiles after being sworn in.

WABE 90.1 FM

It wasn't business as usual for the year's first Atlanta Board of Education meeting.

That's because there are six new members and as WABE's Rose Scott reports new leadership.

As the members walked in, the crowd cheered.

The first order of business was to swear in the new board.

But before the ceremony, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Edmond Adams delivered a mandate.

WABE 90.1 FM/Scott

Today five former Atlanta Public Schools educators and one former secretary entered into a plea agreement with the state.

They were part of the original thirty-five indicted on charges related to test cheating in APS.

We have two reports on today’s court proceedings from WABE’s Michelle Wirth and Rose Scott.

62-year old Clarietta Davis is the former principal of Venetian Hills Elementary School.

During the state ordered investigation, some teachers at the school confessed to cheating, but Davis initially refused to answer any questions.

WABE 90.1 FM

If all thirty-four defendants facing racketeering charges related to the Atlanta cheating scandal are tried at once, it will be history making and unconstitutional.

That’s according to an attorney representing one of the educators.

The remaining defendants include Dr. Luscious Brown, the former principal of Kennedy Middle School.

He’s charged with racketeering, making false statements and making false writings.