DCSS believes state probe 'grossly unfair' - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DCSS believes state probe 'grossly unfair'

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  With a state-ordered investigation into Criterion Reference Competency Test tampering looming, Dougherty County's School board is standing behind teachers and administrators. 

Board members complained Wednesday that the state investigation is grossly unfair, and they are convinced the investigators won't find any evidence of cheating. But it's that very attitude of denial that prompted this state investigation.

Board members spent about two hours going through their response to the state and talking about the investigation. They believe it's going to take the state coming in to do their own investigation to satisfy them, so they're opening their doors.

One of the three member panel who preformed Dougherty County's Test Tampering investigation for the state stood before the board today baffled why the system's response didn't satisfy the state's requests.

He admitted he didn't include names of teachers interviewed in the most severe schools or the lists of teachers who participated in training, but says if that's the state's hang up, the information is available.

"In order to put all the documents in what was required of us remember we were told on a Friday it had to be in on a Monday we were literally talking about probably three feet high of papers we would have had to include," said CEO Educational Planners' James Wilson.

Still school board members say that shouldn't have prompted the state to send in their own investigators, but they'll provide whatever they need.

"It would be best to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible. If there was wrong doing we need to know about it, if there wasn't wrong doing we need to be exonerated," said David Maschke, School Board Chairman.

They say a member of the Professional Standards Commission served on their panel and didn't see a need to turn in teacher or administrator names to PSC. The panel says they interviewed as many as 20 teachers from several schools but never talked with students.

"You would be asking a seven year old questions regarding a test they took in Mach of 2009," Wilson said. 

Superintendent Joshua Murfree says the system has followed through on every question and he questions what else there is?

"If someone say there's something wrong or irregular then just give us the data to show us that there is something wrong or tell us what you think we need to correct. There's always a corrective action to everything but in terms of saying someone is cheating I would not agree to that," said Murfree.

The whole probe started when the state pointed out an unusually high number of changes in test answers from wrong to right in 2009. In 2009, 92-percent of fourth graders at Jackson Heights Elementary passed the math portion of the CRCT's with a large number of erasures.

This year, with monitors in place only 47.7% passed. The overall passing rate in the eight schools took a nosedive of almost 13 points with monitors. However, both the board and Superintendent say they'll continue to stand behind the systems teachers and the report that found no cheating.

 Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County D. A. Bob Wilson have been appointed by the governor to investigate Dougherty County Schools.

They will have subpoena powers and will interview teachers and administrators under oath.

Board members today said they know the two attorney's who will conduct the state's investigation are aggressive. They've asked the school system's attorney Tommy Coleman to investigate what legally they may need to provide for teachers who might be questioned.

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