ATLANTA - A Fulton County judge has refused to dismiss the case against dozens of Atlanta educators accused of conspiring to cheat on standardized tests.
Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter's decision Friday is a victory for prosecutors. Baxter had expressed concerns about the prosecution's case last week after he said it appeared the defendants had been threatened with the prospect of losing their jobs if they didn't cooperate with the investigation.
In his ruling, Baxter found that at the time of each defendant's interviews "there were no expressed threats to the defendant that she or he would lose their jobs unless they provided statements to investigators' questions," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Whether the defendants subjectively believed they would be fired "remains an open question," Baxter said. He said he will consider the circumstances surrounding the statements "on an individual defendant-by-defendant basis" to determine whether any of them should be dismissed.
Baxter will allow his decision to be appealed before trial. The trial had been set for May 2014, but that could be delayed by pretrial appeals.
In March, former Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators were named in a 65-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to cheat to bolster student test scores.