ATLANTA — In another embarrassing blow to Atlanta public schools, nearly three dozen former educators, including the former superintendent, were indicted Friday in one of the nation’s largest test-cheating scandals.
Former Superintendent Beverly Hall faces charges that include racketeering, false statements and theft because prosecutors said some of the bonuses she received were tied to falsified scores.
Hall retired just days before results of a state investigation were released in 2011. She has long denied knowing about the cheating or ordering it.
The criminal investigation lasted 21 months and the accusations date to 2005. In addition to Hall, 34 people were indicted: four high-level administrators, six principals; two assistant principals; six testing coordinators; 14 teachers; a school-improvement specialist and a school secretary.
Most Read Stories
All of the people named in the indictment face conspiracy charges. Other charges in the 65-count indictment include false statements and writings, theft and influencing witnesses.
The investigation involved at least 50 schools and hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students. The district has about 50,000 students.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard would not directly answer a question about whether Hall led the conspiracy. “What we’re saying is that without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place,” he said.
Hall faces up to 45 years in prison, Howard said.
Richard Deane, an attorney for Hall, did not return a call seeking comment.
The tests were the key measure the state used to determine whether it met the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Schools with good test scores get extra federal dollars to spend in the classroom or on teacher bonuses.
It wasn’t clear how much bonus money Hall received. Howard did not say, and the amount wasn’t mentioned in the indictment.
The previous state investigation in 2011 found cheating by nearly 180 educators in 44 Atlanta schools. Educators gave answers to students or changed answers on tests after they were turned in, investigators said.
State schools Superintendent John Barge said last year he believed the state’s new accountability system would remove the pressure to cheat on standardized tests because it won’t be the sole way the state determines student growth.