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Bowers and Wilson on their APS probe: A wall of silence and good people under pressure

1310965406 78 Bowers and Wilson on their APS probe: A wall of silence and good people under pressure

Good AJC story on the comments made by former Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson at the Atlanta Rotary Club today. the remarks represented the first made by the pair since their explosive report on cheating in APS was released last week.

All told, the probe involved 2,100 interviews and 800,000 documents and led to more than 80 confessions of cheating. the team said nearly 100 other educators cheated, and cheating was confirmed in 44 of 56 schools examined.

Among the comments from Bowers: “I will guarantee you there are more of them than that [178],” Bowers said.  he said that he and Wilson and the team of GBI investigators ran into “a wall of silence … a wall of silence that was created by an atmosphere of secrecy and intimidation.”

According to the story:

Bowers said he was shocked when six principals exercised their constitutional right not to answer questions that could incriminate them. “When we asked, ‘Did you cheat? did you allow cheating? did you know about cheating?’ [They] would say, ‘I invoke the Fifth Amendment.”

Wilson said the investigators began by verifying the state’s analysis of the unusual numbers of erasures on students’ tests. “As early as 2005, we found that the upper leadership had signs that should not have been ignored,” he said, citing the case of one school that went from 830th place out of 1,200 to first place in a single year.

It was obvious, Wilson said, that upper leadership was not looking. “Unfortunately, we found too many times, those who reported cheating became victims of reprimands and investigations themselves,” Wilson said.

He said he did not believe it was monetary bonuses that caused the cheating but the fear of humiliation, being disciplined or even losing one’s job. clearly, some good people abandoned their ethics under pressure, he said.

“These people made us cry,” Wilson said.

Interim Atlanta schools Superintendent Erroll Davis also appeared before the Rotary audience, drawing applause when he said, “The people who have been implicated, the people who have cheated, will not be in front of your children this fall.”

“Whether they ever teach again will be up to the Professional Standards Commission and maybe up to the judicial system, but they will not appear in our system,” Davis said.

Wilson said, “The teachers who did wrong need to be dealt with, but do not brand all teachers. … they did not all do wrong.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

<a href=",2005:cluster=, 12 Jul 2011 01:36:12 GMT 00:00″>Bowers and Wilson on their APS probe: A wall of silence and good people under pressure

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