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Teachers turn themselves in for cheating

April 2, 2013 at 8:19 AM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, April 2 (UPI) -- Atlanta educators began turning themselves in Tuesday to face allegations they changed students' test scores to earn bonuses, jail records showed.

Former Atlanta school Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 district educators were indicted Friday on 65 counts of racketeering. The grand jury alleged Hall led a corrupt organization that gamed the system to earn bonuses by fraudulently raising students test scores.

Hall earned more than $500,000 in performance bonuses as school superintendent, The New York Times reported.

The educators had until 11 a.m. Tuesday to surrender to authorities, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Tameka Goodson, a school improvement specialist at Kennedy Middle School, surrendered at 12:30 a.m. at Fulton County Jail. She was booked on $200,000 bond and was charged with racketeering, and making false statements and writings, jail records indicate.

Donald Bullock, a testing coordinator at Usher-Collier Heights Elementary School, turned himself in just before 6 a.m., accompanied by his attorney. He was charged with racketeering and three counts of false statements and writings, the newspaper reported.

At around 7 a.m., Theresia Copeland, former Benteen Elementary testing coordinator, turned herself in, WSB-TV, Atlanta, reported. She was charged with violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act, theft by taking, and two counts of false statements and writings.

At least two other former teachers attempted to turn themselves in Monday, though a spokeswoman for Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard said defendants must surrender "on Tuesday," not before.

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 Journal-Constitution reported.

"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.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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