Bowers: Enough cheating evidence to prosecute -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bowers: Enough cheating evidence to prosecute

Special Prosecutor and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers Special Prosecutor and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers

State investigators looking into possible CRCT cheating in Dougherty County schools say they already have enough evidence to prosecute educators, and they're only about halfway through their questioning of school workers.

They say teachers who tell the truth won't face criminal charges.

Investigators say they've gotten more cooperation here than in Atlanta, especially from parents and students who've come forward. They say they know cheating went on. They're trying to determine whether administrators ordered it.

Investigators are working on getting at the truth. They want to find out exactly what happened on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Tests to cause a high number of erasures Dougherty County classrooms.

"There was cheating, but I could have told you that before we started by looking at the statistics, but we have confirmed that with more specific information," said Special Prosecutor and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers.

School officials have denied cheating allegations, saying the statistics prove nothing and that the worst erasures occurred in grades one and two where students were just learning how to take tests.

Bowers looks at it differently. "Some of the worst results I've seen are three through five."

GBI agents have already conducted more than 240 interviews, a number that grows each day and they're using tools like polygraph machines. "We have already done more polygraph tests, significantly more polygraph tests here than we did the whole time we were in Atlanta."

Those interviews have happened in as many as seven schools, investigators are scheduled to visit eleven. Thursday Bowers said teachers who tell the truth about cheating won't face criminal charges.

"Teachers in the main were responding to direction from on high in terms of what they did, and that was certainly confirmed in Atlanta. "

But what about here in Dougherty County? "I'm not ready to say that here, but my estimate would be we will probably find the same thing. Only time will tell."

State investigators expect GBI agents will finish up their interviews by the middle of next month and it will be up to state investigators to handle repeat questioning and ultimately release their findings.

Interestingly enough, investigators say the rate at which school personnel are being implicated here in Dougherty County is nearly the same as it was in the Atlanta Schools investigation. 

Investigators say since they came to town they've had a lot of cooperation from the Superintendent and school board attorney which has helped moved the investigation along.


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