After being found guilty of the largest cheating scandal in the nation, 10 former Atlanta educators were sentenced Tuesday, some up to seven years in prison.
Judge Jerry Baxter of Fulton County Superior Court sentenced the educators to less stringent prison terms than the 20 years previously expected, USA Today reports. The educators were accused of taking part in a cheating scandal by changing the answers to standardized tests to receive bonuses or to keep their jobs. Many teachers who tried to expose the educators were reportedly threatened.
In what he called a “second chance,” Baxter implored the teachers to realize that switching test answers for personal gain only hurt the students who were used as pawns.
“I think there were hundreds, thousands of children who were harmed,” the judge said. “That’s what gets lost in all of this.”
“I just wanted them to get a taste of it. Apparently, that didn’t quite move them.”
Sharon Davis-Williams and Tamara Cotman will serve seven years in prison, which also includes probation, 2,000 hours of community service, and a $25 fine. Regional director of the city’s school system, Michael Pitts, was given the same sentence and five years jointly for influencing a witness. David Bullock, a former testing coordinator, and former teacher Pamela Cleveland took plea deals that allowed only Cleveland to avoid jail time. Cleveland will serve five years probation, 1,000 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine.
Because she cares for her elderly parents, she was also given a one-year 7 p.m. to 7-a.m. home confinement deal. Bullock will also serve five years and was allowed to serve six months via the weekends, 1,500 community service hours, and a $5,000 fine.
The rest of the first-level educators were given five years in prison and will be allowed to serve two to three years of their sentences on probation. Community service and fines range in the same amount as the others.
The remaining eight who decided not to take a plea have up to 30 days to file an appeal.
One guilty educator who recently gave birth will be sentenced sometime in August.
SOURCE: USA Today | VIDEO CREDIT: NewsOne Now