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Former Atlanta Superintendent's Lawyers Dispute Cheating Charges

Attorneys for Beverly Hall, the former superintendent in Atlanta indicted last month as part of a broad cheating conspiracy in the city's school system, issued a statement to the media earlier today saying that allegations that the veteran educator sought to inflate test scores so that her annual bonuses would spike are wrong.

According to the Associated Press, Hall's lawyers today refuted both prosecutors' and media accounts that have implied that the former superintendent's half a million dollars in bonuses over a decade were based on test scores in the district. "This is false information or at best misleading since it aggregates Dr. Hall's approximate bonuses over some ten years," the lawyers' statement said, according to the AP. "In any given year, Dr. Hall's bonus was a small fraction of this amount and was tied to 25 or more performance objectives established by the Atlanta Board of Education."

In an interview with Education Week last month, David J. Bailey, one of Hall's lawyers, said that the former superintendent is innocent of all charges.

A judge has put Hall and 34 other former Atlanta educators who were indicted in the cheating scheme under a gag order. All the defendants are set to be arraigned on May 3.

In the meantime this week, Atlanta students will begin taking Georgia's Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, the annual standardized test in reading and mathematics, under the tightest security measures the district has ever used, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Test booklets are sealed and locked in "safe rooms," which only test coordinators or principals can access. Monitors selected by the district will be in schools on test days to watch out for any testing improprieties and answer sheets will be placed inside envelopes and sealed with tamper-proof tape each day. Live video streams will also feed footage of the school-based safe rooms to the central office.

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