Aloha Beverly Hall

While turmoil brews over what’s being called the nations largest cheating scandal, former Atlanta Public School (APS) Superintendent is on vacation. In Hawaii. (Image: Hall in Hawaii being asked for an interview by local Atlanta Anchorwoman Monica Pearson)

The investigation into Atlanta Public Schools revealed that 178 educators in 44 schools cheated on standardized tests used to meet federal benchmarks. The investigation found that the cheating dated as far back as 2001. Educators told state investigators they were pressured to improve test scores – not surprising in a system where rewards and bonuses are based on test scores.

In 2009 Hall reportedly earned more than $400,000 in salary, bonuses and other benefits, including a car. In fact, her bonus for 2009 was $78,115.  (Source). But the problems may not have started with Hall. Maureen Downey of AJC’s Get Schooled blog points out that as far back as 10 years ago APS scores seemed “too good to be true.”

The educators named in the most recent scandal were either involved with erasing wrong answers or should have known that the corrections were taking place.  As former APS superintendent, Beverly Hall, at the least, falls in the “should have known” category.  CNN reports:

The state’s report indicated there was a climate of cheating and performance-at-all-costs during the tenure of former Superintendent Beverly Hall. It’s a charge Hall has denied. “We reaffirm Dr. Hall’s position that she most definitely did not know of any widespread cheating on the CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests) in 2009 or any other year,” she said in a statement released through her attorney. (CNN)

In an ironic twist, Hall was named the 2009 Superintendent of The Year by the American Association of School Administrators.  It would seem fitting that even if Hall continues to tow the unbelievable “I wasn’t aware” line that at a minimum she should shoulder some responsibility for being at the helm of what is now a historical miscarriage of justice perpetrated against Atlanta school children and their parents.  Instead, she’s in Hawaii.

To read more about the APS scandal, click here.

School, scholarship and servitude?

Cecilia Chang, St. John University’s former dean of the Institute of Asian Studies, allegedly forced students to make meals at her home, answer her personal emails and deliver cash to her while she gambled at a casino. Students say Chang held their scholarships over their heads, threatening to revoke them if they refused to perform the services. The scholarships, awarded by Chang, stated that the students would work part time for the Asian Studies program. Apparently by “Asian Studies program”, Chang meant her. Watch ABC’s coverage of the story below.

“Hey Baby – I just wanted to say hi before I go to bed…”

Thus starts an email sent to a 17 year old high school student – by his teacher. “Good night baby! I’ll meet you in our dreams. I miss you baby! Muaah!” is how the email ended.

Last spring, Dallas school investigators found that Skyline High School teacher Leslie Michel Finch behaved inappropriately with her 17 year old student for over a year. Despite that fact, ten months after the district concluded its investigation, Finch was still working at the school before resigning in January. It gets worse. Finch is now a substitute teacher in another Texas school district.

The really bad behavior in this one goes so deep, it’s difficult to know where to begin. But lets start with the obvious. Teachers are not supposed to be having “sexual relations” with their students. Period. The fact that school officials determined that inappropriate behavior took place, yet Finch was allowed to continue teaching in the same school is baffling? If this had been a male teacher involved in a sexual relationship with a female student, would he have been allowed to continue teaching? I doubt it. Furthermore, I’m guessing criminal charges would have been filed against him.

The story is being reported by the Dallas Morning News who reviewed 20 cases involving sex allegations against teachers between 2005 and 2009. The review found that in half of the cases, educators suspected of having inappropriate relationships with students were allowed to resign and maintain clean criminal records, allowing them to pursue other jobs working around children.

Sex offenders are not limited to scary men lurking in the dark at children’s playgrounds. When adults placed in a position of authority, abuse that authority by behaving inappropriately with children – no matter how old those children are – they should be punished, severely. The other guilty party in this scenario? The school system that allowed Finch to continue teaching at the school and left the door open for her to keep working with children. Really bad all around.

School CFO siphons $675,000 from New Orleans charter school

The CFO and former business manager of the Langston Hughes Academy in New Orleans allegedly stole $675,000 worth of school funds over a 15 month period. An forensic audit of the school’s accounts revealed that Kelly Thompson, who was arrested back in November, made over 150 cash withdrawals ranging from $100 up to nearly $9,000 each.

As a result of the theft, the charter school was left in “shambles” said school board chair Mickey Allweiss. Langston Hughes Academy was the first new public school building to open in New Orleans post-Katrina and houses both elementary and middle school programs.

There’s a special place in really bad boss hell for people who steal from children – particularly those who steal from children who’ve been through the sort of tragedy that followed Katrina. Read the full story about the academy and the thieving CFO here.

Photo: First graders at Langston Hughes Academy Charter School – Photograph by Amanda Wiles.

Bad principals

james berry Talk about a bad boss! Earlier this year an audit of Dekalb County, Georgia elementary school Atherton Elementary revealed an unusually high number of eraser marks on the state’s standardized 5th grade CRCT math re-test. When further investigation revealed that the school’s principal, James Berry and assistant principal Doretha Alexander were behind the changes, both were arrested. State officials maintained that the higher scores helped the schools meet federal standards. The state said the scores improved significantly with the changes. On average, answers were altered 21 times per student, the majority of the changes making them correct.

Both administrators plead guilty to altering public documents and last week, DeKalb County District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said that Berry will serve two years’ probation and pay a $1,000 fine. His sentence could have been as long as ten years. The state’s teacher licensing commission banned Berry from Georgia schools for two years. Alexander was banned for a year.

I don’t understand why the principal was only banned for two years. What do you have to do to get banned for life? Isn’t altering student test scores a good enough reason to get you banned from administrating at any public school for life? We’re sending the wrong message to the students here and we’re certainly not putting their well being first. Worse yet, other metro Atlanta schools are also being investigated including Deerwood Academy in Atlanta, and Parklane Elementary in Fulton County. Bad principles indeed. (Image – James Berry)

Source: WSBTV