Ex-Atlanta schools chief, 34 more indicted

March 29, 2013 at 8:07 PM

ATLANTA, March 29 (UPI) -- Former Atlanta school Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other district educators were indicted Friday, capping an investigation into a cheating scandal.

The 65-count racketeering indictment handed up by the grand jury alleges Hall led a corrupt organization that allegedly gamed the system by fraudulently raising students' test scores to earn bonuses, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

"The whole purpose behind this is to vindicate the little children who got gypped out of a quality education," former state Attorney General Michael Bowers, who helped lead the investigation, said.

Investigators said nearly 180 educators, including more than three dozen principals, took part in the cheating on state curriculum tests that came to light in 2011, the newspaper said.

"If a school achieved 70 percent of more of its targets, all employees at the school received a bonus," the indictment said. "Additionally, if certain system-wide targets were achieved, Beverly Hall herself received a substantial bonus."

Hall's bail was set at $7.5 million, the newspaper said.

District Attorney Paul Howard said Hall and her advisers didn't formally agree on carrying out a cheating conspiracy, but her actions made it possible.

"Because there is a single-minded purpose, and that purpose is to cheat to manipulate the grades, what we are alleging is that she was a full participant in that conspiracy," Howard said. "Without here, this conspiracy could not have taken place."

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