Two APS educators convicted of cheating lose their appeals. Right decision?

APRIL 30, 2015 ATLANTA Former APS SRT Director Tamara Cotman listens as she is resentenced. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter holds a re-sentencing hearing in Fulton County Superior Court, Thursday, April 30, 2015. Former regional directors Tamara Cotman, Sharon Davis-Williams and Michael Pitts were given the heftiest punishment — 20 years, seven years to be served in prison and 13 years on probation following their convictions racketeering and other charges in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter resentenced the trio to 3 years in prison, 7 years probation, $10,000 fine and 2000 hours of community service. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Today, the Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of two educators convicted in the 2015 Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial.

As my AJC colleague Ty Tagami reports:

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the convictions of Tamara Cotman and Angela Williamson will stand. The pair are among the 11 Atlanta Public Schools teachers and administrators who went to trial in the racketeering case in the scandal over cheating on standardized tests. They and eight others were convicted. While others planned appeals in Fulton County Superior Court, these two were the only ones to go directly to the appeals court.

Cotman was a regional superintendent. Williamson was an elementary school teacher. Cotman, Williamson and the rest who received prison terms were freed on bond during their appeals.

During the trial, the most damning evidence against Williamson came from students. The AJC reported this testimony of former students:

Two other former Dobbs students testified that Williamson told them and other students the answers on fourth-grade state tests.

Williamson pointed out the right answers to the girls, both now high school sophomores, and to other students, the girls said. If several students were struggling with the same question, Williamson would announce the right answer to the entire class, one of the girls said.

But the girls didn’t tell anyone about the cheating at the time. Williamson told them not to, they said. “If you tell anyone, it’ll be the last person you tell, I promise you that, ” Williamson told the class, one of the girls testified.

Evidence against Cotman came from teachers, as this AJC story reported:

A former Atlanta Public Schools reading specialist testified Wednesday that former regional supervisor Tamara Cotman told her she was being involuntarily transferred because she “wasn’t playing for the right team.”

Asked what she took that to mean, Monica Hooker answered, “To cheat. To up those numbers. It was not about the child. It was about the numbers.”

Hooker was called as a prosecution witness in the trial against Cotman and 11 other former educators who are accused of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy to inflate test scores. Hooker worked at BEST Academy middle school from 2007 to 2009.

She testified that Cotman called her into her office in June 2009 to tell her she was being transferred to Harper-Archer Middle School because Hooker’s students weren’t making enough progress, Hooker said.

Hooker said she told Cotman that all of her BEST Academy seventh-grade students passed the reading test and that her sixth-grade students also did well on it. After that, Cotman made the comment about not “playing for the right team, ” Hooker testified.

Reader Comments 0

17 comments
bicami
bicami

 my classmate's half-sister makes 70 each hour at home. she's been unemployed for 5 months but the previous month her paycheck was 18078 working at home a couple of hours every day, look at★═════════════★☆★www.decksky.com


Ophelia Hawthorne
Ophelia Hawthorne

And where was the NAACP through all this? The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, EDUCATIONAL, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States.  So what happened?  Not a peep out of them.  Shouldn't they have been protesting or something? 

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

These people cheated students, cheated parents, and cheated taxpayers. You'd better believe this was the right decision.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

I look forward to them dressed in orange jumpsuits and enjoying 3 hots and a cot for years.

Starik
Starik

Kids come and go, but bad administrators and teachers go on and on... We must find a way to get rid of bad teachers. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

The good news is that they lost their appeal and their lawyers probably took all their money.

That's what you would call a "win-win".

Starik
Starik

They got off lightly. They'll probably get paroled after a few months. 

Astropig
Astropig

When I look at the photograph above,I see a defendant that's deeply,truly remorseful that she got caught.

kaelyn
kaelyn

Yes, it was the right decision. I have less than zero sympathy for people who intentionally lie and cheat at the expense of innocent children.

class80olddog
class80olddog

It is too bad that they did not imprison Beverly Hall.  She would be quite ripe by now. 

Elizabeth47
Elizabeth47

Well, I'm back after a long absence. I have always been an advocate for education but not for these people. They deserve whatever they get.

class80olddog
class80olddog

hopefully they are now incarcerated and not out on bond while they file interminable appeals based on the principle of "I didn't get the verdict I wanted".

Astropig
Astropig

@class80olddog 

They have yet to go to jail.Their case is going to the Georgia Supreme Court.They could have served most of their sentences by now,but they do have the right to due process.

But don't despair.They have merely prolonged their agony and expense.They go to sleep each night knowing that they have been convicted in a court of law,and that they will face a day of reckoning. This has the effect of making their sentences that much longer.For them,the process IS the punishment.

LaToyaHill
LaToyaHill

How can there possibly be any doubt in anyone's mind that it was the right decision?

Astropig
Astropig

I'm not big on seeing other people's misfortunes,but I'll make an exception for Cotman.I've seen literally thousands of people go to prison,but none have been as satisfying as seeing her get a room in the Graybar Motel.


 “If you tell anyone, it’ll be the last person you tell, I promise you that, ” Williamson told the class, one of the girls testified."


Right decision? Is this a real question?