published Friday, September 9th, 2011

Ex-chief says Atlanta schools had no ‘culture of cheating’

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    In a Feb. 20, 2009 file photo, Beverly Hall, Atlanta superintendent of public schools, holds up her award after she was named the 2009 Superintendent of the Year at the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference on Education in San Francisco. Longtime Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall has been lauded nationally as a model superintendent for turning around a struggling urban district. But the Jamaica native is retiring under a cloud of suspicion from allegations of widespread cheating in the 50,000-student district and accusations by a former employee that she ordered a cover up of test tampering. Hall is set to leave her job on June 30, just days before state investigators are expected to announce the results of a yearlong probe into whether educators changed answers on students' tests. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

ATLANTA—Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall said she still doesn’t believe there was a “culture of cheating” in the district.

Hall told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday that she “can’t accept” the allegations in an 800-page investigation released by the state in July. The actions of the 178 educators accused of widespread cheating in the report were “horrific,” but they represent a small fraction of the 3,000 teachers who work in the district, Hall said in her first interview since the cheating probe was made public.

The report also blames Hall for the scandal, saying she either knew or should have known that teachers were changing answers on students’ tests or giving students answers. Investigators found that Hall created a culture of “fear and intimidation” where teachers were expected to produce results by any means necessary.

“The Beverly Hall as they characterize me is foreign to me,” said Hall, 65. “[It’s] just crazy to me.”

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