Suspects in Atlanta Cheating Scandal Begin to Surrender

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email
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MGN Online

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ATLANTA Former Atlanta educators, now indicted on charges related to cheating children for their own financial benefit, have begun surrendering to the Fulton County Jail for processing, CBS Atlanta reports.

Lawyers for some of the 35 defendants in Atlanta's school cheating scandal say their bonds are unreasonably high.

Hurl Taylor, who represents test coordinator Donald Bullock, said his client's $1 million bond amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Bullock was among the first defendants to surrender at the Fulton County Jail early Tuesday.

All 35 defendants must turn themselves in Tuesday. Five of them had done so by noon Tuesday, Fulton County sheriff's spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan said.

According to CBS Atlanta, in addition to Bullock, Tameka Goodson, Theresia Copeland, Gregory Reid and Sandra Ward all surrendered by noon Tuesday.

"She's been anxious about this, of course, since she's heard about this. (She's) very distraught over it," said Goodson's attorney Raymong Lail. "It's the closest she's ever been to a jail in her life."

In a chaotic scene outside the jail Tuesday morning, the lawyers said it wasn't clear when their clients would be able to request lower bonds.

The educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, are named in a 65-count indictment that alleges a broad conspiracy involving cheating on standardized tests in Atlanta Public Schools.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports that nearly 200 educators admitted to taking part in the massive scandal: they tampered with students' standardized tests and corrected answers to inflate scores. Some teachers had pizza parties to erase wrong answers and circle in the right ones. One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.

At one middle school, 86 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, compared to 24 percent the year before. Prosecutors say that progress was a criminal mirage, Phillips reported.

Justina Collins says her daughter Nybria, now 15, has always struggled with reading. The single mother knew something was wrong when Nybria aced her standardized test in reading.

"Could someone explain to me how she could have passed or exceed a test, but fail throughout the whole entire year? ... When you hear it coming from the very ones that you look up to, to help educate your children, it's just sad and hurtful to know that we search and hope for the best for our kids, and that's what their oath is to provide the best education for them," Collins said.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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