11 of 12 former Atlanta School Teachers Convicted of Racketeering!

Darth Sidious
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edited April 2015 in The Social Lounge
Atlanta schools cheating scandal: 11 of 12 defendants convicted

(CNN)All but one of 12 defendants charged with racketeering and other crimes in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal were convicted Wednesday.

"We've been fighting for the children in our community, particularly those children who were deprived by this cheating scandal," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said.

Ten of the defendants were taken into custody, while one woman who is pregnant will remain out on bond until sentencing.

All 11 were convicted of racketeering, with a mixture of convictions and acquittals on other charges, including making false statements, CNN affiliate WGCL reported. One teacher was acquitted of all charges.

Howard told reporters sentencing should happen in the coming weeks.

In 2013, a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 educators from the district, including principals, teachers and testing coordinators.

More than 20 former school system employees took a plea deal, WGCL reported.

A state review had determined that some cheating had occurred in more than half the district's elementary and middle schools. About 180 teachers at 44 schools were implicated initially.

The cheating is believed to date back to early 2001, when scores on statewide skills tests began to turn around in the 50,000-student school district, according to the 2013 indictment.

For at least four years, between 2005 and 2009, test answers were altered, fabricated and falsely certified, the indictment said.

Michael Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general who investigated the cheating scandal said in 2013 that there were "cheating parties," erasures in and out of classrooms, and teachers were told to make changes to student answers on tests.

"Anything that you can imagine that could involve cheating -- it was done," he said at the time.

During his investigation, he heard that educators cheated out of pride, to earn bonuses, to enhance their careers or to keep their jobs, he said.

During the trial, prosecutor Fani Willis told the jury that some students were given the correct answers, CNN affiliate WSB reported.

Investigations into the remarkable -- and suspicious -- improvements on standardized tests were first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper in 2008.

Beverly Hall, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools who resigned in 2010, was too ill to go to trial; she died in March. Hall repeatedly denied any direct knowledge of wrongdoing