30-five Atlanta educators were indicted last week for allegedly participating in a cheating conspiracy involving one of America’s most storied school superintendents.
Retired Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall was named “National Superintendent of the Year” in 2009 and had previously headed troubled school districts in New York and Newark.
She was credited with rescuing the struggling Atlanta school system and helping it meet testing standards set by the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.
By 2011, she had become the “pariah of a major city,” The New York Times has reported, referring to Atlanta.
The alleged standardized test cheating scandal — which appears to be the largest in the nation’s history — may date back as far as 2001, when test scores began to turn around in Atlanta public schools, according to CNN.
The state finally launched an investigation in 2010 of potential cheating in Atlanta. As part of that probe, the state enlisted at least one third-grade teacher to wear a wire to record her fellow teachers, according to The New York Times.
That investigation found Hall ignored serious allegations of cheating beginning in 2005, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
There are also allegations that Hall “ruled by fear” and created a culture so demanding that she would alienate subordinates who didn’t deliver the results she wanted, The New York Times has reported.
When Congress passed No Child Left Behind in 2001, it created a renewed focus on children’s test scores — and perverse incentives to raise test scores. Schools that had low test scores were deemed “failing” under the law.
In Atlanta, bonuses were paid to staff members at schools with high test scores, The New York Times has reported. Hall made $581,860.82 in bonuses between 1999 and 2009.
Hall and a number of educators are being charged under the RICO statute, a law originally passed to target the mafia. A grand jury recommended a $7.5 million bond for Hall, and she could get as many as 45 years in prison if convicted.
Hall, who retired in 2011, denies the charges. Her lawyer, Richard Deane, told the Times that “not a single person” has alleged that the former superintendent told them to cheat.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.