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Two Atlanta Educators Convicted in Test-Cheating Scandal Lose Appeals

Two Atlanta educators, who were convicted two years ago in connection with a widespread test-cheating scandal that rocked the nation, have lost appeals to have their convictions overturned.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday that Tamara Cotman, a former executive director at Atlanta Public Schools, and Angela Williamson, a former teacher at Dobbs Elementary School, both lost their bids to the Georgia Court of Appeals to have their convictions reversed.

Their attorneys argued that the trial judge, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, gave too much leeway to the jury.

Williamson and Cotman were among 11 Atlanta teachers and school administrators who were convicted in 2015 for their alleged role in a cheating scandal, in which they were charged with conspiring to inflate test scores by changing students' answers or guiding students to the right answers on the 2009 Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

Former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall was among those charged in connection with the cheating scandal, but Hall died before she could stand trial. Hall had denied any wrongdoing.

Cotman was sentenced to seven years in prison, along with 2,000 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. Williamson was convicted of racketeering and two counts of false statements and false swearing and was sentenced to two years in prison, 1,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Other educators who were convicted also plan to appeal their convictions, but Cotman and Williamson were the only ones who appealed directly to the state Court of Appeals, according to the paper. The others plan to appeal to the Fulton County Superior Court.

Williamson's and Cotman's attorneys said they planned to appeal Friday's opinion to the State Supreme Court. The two will remain free while their appeals are pending, the paper said.

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