published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Two more educators enter pleas in Atlanta test-cheating case

ATLANTA — Two more former teachers have pleaded guilty in connection with the test-cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools.

Monday's guilty pleas mean that four defendants have now acknowledged criminal wrongdoing, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The judge overseeing the case has set a Jan. 6 deadline for APS defendants to reach negotiated pleas with the prosecution. More are expected to plead guilty this week.

On Monday, former Dobbs Elementary School teacher Shayla Smith and former Benteen Elementary School teacher Sheila Evans both agreed to cooperate and testify for the prosecution in the trial scheduled next spring in exchange for their pleas. Prosecutors dismissed felony charges of racketeering against Smith and Evans, who both pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of obstruction.

Smith and Evans are among more than 30 former administrators and teachers to face criminal charges involving allegations of tampering with standardized test results. The charges stem from a 2011 state investigation, which concluded that cheating occurred at 44 Atlanta schools so educators could avoid losing their jobs and earn bonuses.

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