State drops Dougherty Co. Schools CRCT probe -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State drops Dougherty Co. Schools CRCT probe

Dougherty County school leaders are breathing a sigh of relief now that the state has dropped its investigation into possible test tampering.

The Governor only released a brief statement saying state officials are satisfied Dougherty County has taken care of its issues.

He did not say there was no cheating here, but Dougherty County school leaders say a cloud has been lifted from the school's image, and they feel vindicated.

For two years this investigation has hung over the Dougherty County School system, and everyone admits it was a huge problem. Now school officials say the community can be assured there was no wide spread test cheating conspiracy.

In February 2010 Governor Sonny Perdue announced that test administrators found evidence of suspicious erasures on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Tests in Dougherty County. In August the Governor said he was not satisfied with the Dougherty County schools internal investigation, and launched a state probe.

Now his successor, Governor Nathan Deal, says "Dougherty County has taken significant steps on its own to address testing issues in its system and there's no need for further state investigation."

Then School Board Chairman David Maschke said he was not surprised by today's announcement.

 Maschke said "Our administration, our board was confident from the beginning that there was not going to be anything of substance found with this investigation."

Dougherty County School Attorney Tommy Coleman worked closely with the GBI and special state Investigators.

Coleman said "We collected reams of documents. I went through them. Didn't see anything there to lead me to believe there was any widespread cheating going on. "

But school leaders say this investigation had high costs for the school system.

Maschke said "I think there is no question it has been a distraction. It affected morale. If affected the students and how they were addressed in taking tests."

Maschke said the financial cost was also high.   About 100 thousand dollars for the school system. But now this conclusion they say will help.

Maschke said "This cloud of concern and distrust that was cast by this investigation for awhile should now be lifted, and we can move forward."

Coleman said " I think it already has. I think everybody has taken a second look at what they have done."

Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree said in a statement "We are happy that Governor Deal has dropped the investigation of our system based on the results of the investigations that were carried out in 2009 and 2010. His office indicated agreement with our investigators that no cheating was found."

Governor's Office spokespersons said there will be an official announcement made through a statement issued Thursday from Atlanta. No big press conference, like held by the Governor yesterday stating the large amount of cheating found in the Atlanta School System testing.

The Governor would not tell us Wednesday what steps the school system has taken to address testing problems.

We tried repeatedly to talk to Governor's Office of Student Achievement Director Kathleen Mathers today about this investigation which was headed by her office.

She never returned our calls.

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