Six enter guilty pleas in Atlanta schools test-cheating case

Jan. 7, 2014 at 6:59 AM
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ATLANTA, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Six elementary and middle school personnel, including a principal, pleaded guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal.

Former Parks Middle School teacher Starlette Mitchell was the first to plead guilty Monday in a hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, admitting to changing answers on the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Court records indicated Mitchell said she felt pressured and harassed to cheat by co-defendant, former Parks principal Christopher Waller.

"I am ashamed I succumbed to the extremely intense pressure," Mitchell said.

While accepting her guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of obstruction, Baxter said, "I'd give that about a 'D' as far as an apology."

Other defendants were former Venetian Hills Elementary principal Clarietta Davis, former Parks teacher Kimberly Oden, former Dobbs Elementary teacher Derrick Broadwater, former Kennedy Middle secretary Carol Dennis and former Dunbar Elementary teacher Gloria Ivey.

Davis, 62, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making false statements while other defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, the Journal said.

All the defendants who pleaded guilty also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against others at the upcoming racketeering conspiracy trial.

Baxter originally set a Monday deadline for defendants to declare whether they were negotiating plea agreements with prosecutors or proceeding toward trial set for this spring. Told that negotiations were still under way with several other defendants, Baxter extended the deadline to Jan. 24.

After pleas from Mitchell, Davis, Oden, Dennis, Ivey and Broadwater, 17 defendants remain.

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