CRCT state investigators in Albany for schools investigation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

CRCT state investigators in Albany for schools investigation

State investigators are now in Albany to interview educators in the CRCT cheating investigation into the Dougherty County Schools.

Investigators started this round of interviews with Dr. Sally Whatley who was Superintendent when the 2009 tests were administered.

They plan to talk to teachers and principals in all 22 elementary and middle schools.

Investigators said their first 40 to 50 interviews were conducted late fall early winter and were enough for investigators to want to ask more questions. Monday morning they met with about a dozen GBI agents who will help finish the initial round of interviews that could take weeks.

The Georgia State Patrol Post 40 has been converted into a command post for Attorney Mike Bowers and Attorney Bob Wilson who are wasting little time resuming the questioning of teachers and principals in the Dougherty County Schools. They're not coming in with a blank slate.

"We have a wealth of statistical data which in and of itself is powerful evidence to begin with," said Mike Bowers, the Governor's lead CRCT Investigator. "We've looked behind that data both for Atlanta and Dougherty County to determine its reliability," said Bob Wilson, Governor Nathan Deal's other lead CRCT investigator.

Investigators will question teachers and principals in all 22 elementary and middle schools.

"We have to do about another 250 to complete the work," said Bowers.

Initial interviews will happen in the school, lasting from 30 minutes to several hours, but the deeper into the process they go, interviews will be moved to the state patrol and become more involved. Monday investigators asked for information on terminated teachers.

"We have in the past terminated teachers for various offenses and they have a continuing interest in that especially the ones we terminated for cheating," said Tommy Coleman, School Board attorney.

Investigators will be focused on schools with flagged classrooms.

"Those are rooms where the standard deviation exceeds three which means it's very unlikely that the erasures that occurred by chance alone. There's most likely some sort of human intervention to have caused that high number of erasures," said Bowers.

When we questioned how many or what type of tips they'd receive to the tip line, both attorneys would only confirm there were tips about cheating in Dougherty County.

"yes," said Bowers. "Yes, but we're not going to tell you what it was, all you're going to get is yes," said Wilson.

The rest will be for the investigation to uncover.

In addition to talking with Dr. Whatley they were expected to conduct one other interview Monday. Wilson and Bowers say they'll be in and out of the Albany office throughout the process, and just say their instructions from the Governor are to get to the truth as soon as possible.

Investigators say it's likely many people will be interviewed more than once.

They expect some teachers and administrators will have attorneys present during the questioning.

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.   

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