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Investigators Turn Attention to Another Georgia District

Fresh off their report on cheating in Atlanta, state investigators are getting ready to ramp up an investigation into possible cheating in the 16,000-student Dougherty County school district, headquartered in Albany about 170 miles south of Atlanta.

Like Atlanta, Dougherty schools saw an unusual amount of wrong-to-right erasures on state tests. Richard Hyde, one of the state investigators, told the Albany Herald newspaper that some teachers have already acknowledged cheating.

"We'll be back (in Albany) in full strength in mid-August," [he] said. "We've already had a number of teachers confess or provide us information. We are pleased with the men and women who have come forward and we think we will ultimately be as successful in Albany as we were in Atlanta."

It was unclear if the teachers admitted to wrongdoing themselves, or told investigators that they had observed improper activities.

"We are certain there are concerned teachers, administrators and parents down there who want to do the right thing," Hyde said.

The superintendent of the district, Joshua Murfree Jr., said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he expects the district to be exonerated. A former athletics director at Albany State University, Murfree was hired last July.

If teachers and administrators in Albany want to know what to expect from investigators, they'd do well to take a look at this recent article in the New York Times, which outlined how the investigators did their work in Atlanta.

They started with one school, as [former county attorney Robert Wilson] said, "to see if we could crack the egg." From a list of schools with large numbers of erasures on answer sheets, Mr. Hyde chose Venetian Hills Elementary, in a neighborhood he had patrolled as a young police officer.

"You start by walking around the school, giving everyone your card," he said. "Stir the pot." The first time he made the rounds, nobody cracked. But then, a religious woman with a lot to get off her chest came forward. One cracked egg led to the next, and within two weeks, five teachers plus the testing coordinator, Milagros Moner, had confessed that they had changed answers to raise the school's scores.

We'll soon see if there are eggs to crack in Dougherty.

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