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Atlanta Cheating Trial Might Last Until Spring, Judge Says

By guest blogger Madeline Will

The Atlanta schools cheating trial just wrapped up its 11th week and is taking a two-week break for the holidays, but there is still a long way to go before a verdict is reached. 

Prosecutors, who previously said they plan to rest their case next month, said this week that they now plan to finish in mid-February, according to the Atlanta Journal ConstitutionFulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter told jurors that the trial could run until April—seven months after it started. 

A dozen former educators from the Atlanta trial are on trial for a series of charges involving their alleged roles in correcting students' wrong answers on state standardized tests. The district's former superintendent, Beverly Hall, is not currently standing trial because she is fighting stage IV breast cancer. Her trial is postponed indefinitely.  

Earlier this month, Baxter suggested the prosecution and defense consider reaching a compromise and said he was "somewhat doubtful" about the racketeering charge facing each of the educators on trial.

This week, Dobbs Elementary School teacher Schajuan Jones testified that she saw a 5th grader run after then-principal Dana Evans and tell her that a teacher gave students answers to state tests. Evans, who is currently standing trial, ignored the boy and kept walking, Jones testified, according to the AJC

Jones, who said she had never cheated on state tests ("I don't have to; I teach kids"), testified that she reported problems at the elementary school to Evans and to regional supervisor Michael Pitts, who is also on trial, but that nothing came of it. 

"This is why people don't tell," she said. 

In the past couple months of trial, numerous people have testified that they told their higher-ups about suspicions of cheating to no avail. 

Two other Dobbs teachers—Angela Williamson and Dessa Curb—also are currently on trial. 

A former Dobbs student testified this week that Williamson gave her and other students in the 4th grade class answers on the state tests—other former Dobbs students had said similar things, according to the AJC

Last week, a former Dobbs reading coach testified that some Dobbs 4th grade teachers told their students that they were "just dumb" and "can't learn anything." 

The AJC has more on this week's testimony. The trial will resume on Jan. 5. 

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