Digging Deeper: Paying a price for cheating - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Paying a price for cheating

Rev. James Bush Rev. James Bush

Dougherty County School Board members say there'll be consequences to those who may have cheated on CRCT's. Investigators report they've already had some confessions after questioning teachers, administrators, and others about changing answers on student tests.

Investigators have strong words for those who don't cooperate with their investigation, today saying they will be criminally charged with obstruction.

The investigation centers around the allegation that school personnel corrected wrong answers on many tests so that the school would show improvement when in fact the students had performed poorly.

The statements were made as investigators prepare to come to Albany within the next 30 days.

Board member Carol Tharin told us teachers and staff contacted her on issues other than cheating. She says they are afraid to give their names and hesitant to report problems for fear of losing their jobs. She told us they should come forward but shouldn't fear principals or the administration because only the board can hire and fire.

Chief Investigator Richard Hyde tells us they've had confessions and tips to cheating in the Dougherty County Schools and will be looking at those issues when investigators return to Dougherty County over the next 30 days. It was news to Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree who today said the administration had heard of no confessions.

"Now what people can do with any situation is to say someone is saying something. It's about like me saying I'm, not cooperative, that's interesting, people who know me or don't know me already, know my style," said Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree.

Dr. Murfree was surprised when we told him Investigator Richard Hyde called him not helpful in the investigation and said they had trouble with Murfree while investigators conducted preliminary interviews with 40 teachers, administrators and staff some months ago. Murfree says he's been cooperative.

"Dr. Murfree is transparent, Dr. Murfree ain't going to tell you no lie, and if Dr. Murfree can help you, he will, that's what people need to know, whether its in Atlanta or Washington, DC."

Digging deeper we spoke with board members today who want the investigation to go forward. They told us they want school personnel to be honest, but also said cheating will result in firing, no questions asked.

 "I absolutely think it should go on I know it's disruptive and it has cast a cloud over the system, but if cheating has occurred it needs to be dealt with and dealt with severely," said DCSS Board Member Carol Tharin.

 "I think that they should have access to every shred or paperwork, to personnel and that should happen because I now that the board we want to put this behind us," said Rev. James Bush, DCSS Board Chairman.

But they also feel the state should have been more forthcoming with the school system when the investigation was initiated two years ago.

"We've asked for information and documentation to look at, the state refused to provide it to us that's why we had to send people out to Indianapolis,"  said David Maschke, Board Member.

Everyone from Dr. Murfree to school board members pledged going forward they want to see cooperation and a quick end to the investigation.

School Board chairman James Bush told us he wished investigators would come in as early as next week, in an effort to wrap up the investigation that's hung over the system since 2009.

When investigator arrive over the next 30 days, they're expected to question more teachers, administrators, and staff.

They expect, like in Atlanta's investigation, immunity may be offered to those staff who come forward with information.

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