By the CNN Wire Staff
The superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools has ordered that 178 educators allegedly involved in a teaching scandal resign or face termination proceedings.
In a letter, Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. gave them the opportunity to resign by Wednesday, said Keith Bromery, director of media relations for the schools.
The letter was sent Thursday to educators listed on a report about the state Criterion-Reference Competency Tests as having confessed to or having been implicated in testing improprieties.
On Monday, at a school board meeting, Davis replaced four area superintendents and a school principal.
He told CNN then that children had been failed, and “we can’t allow that to happen, and we can’t allow anyone who was involved with that remain in our system.”
Last week, an investigation concluded that dozens of educators had falsified standardized test results.
The school board has given Davis approval to mandate ethics training for employees and provide remedial help to perhaps thousands of Atlanta Public Schools students who may have improperly advanced because of the cheating.
“We will identify those children, and we will make the requisite investments to remediate the wrongs that were done against them,” Davis told CNN.
Dozens of Atlanta public school educators falsified standardized tests or failed to address such misconduct in their schools, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said last week. He was unveiling the results of a state investigation that confirmed widespread cheating in city schools dating as far back as 2001.
Investigators said teachers and principals working at 44 schools were involved in the scandal. The educators, including 38 principals, were either directly involved in erasing wrong answers on a key standardized test, or they knew — or should have known — what was going on, according to the governor’s office, investigators said.
Deal’s office said 82 of the educators acknowledged involvement, according to the report. Six principals declined to answer investigators’ questions and invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Deal said.
–Erroll B. Davis Jr., Atlanta Public Schools superintendent
Prosecutors will decide whether to bring criminal charges, Deal said.
The state’s report indicated there was a climate of cheating and performance-at-all-costs during the tenure of then-Superintendent Beverly Hall. Hall has denied the allegation.
Davis said there was “a culture of fear and intimidation” that needed to be changed.
“People felt that it was easier to cheat than to miss their goals and objective,” he said. But he also agreed with board members who said it was important to remember that many Atlanta teachers did their jobs well.
“There were so many teachers who have not made ethical compromises who were doing wonderful things on a daily basis,” Davis said.
The cheating was brought to light after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported about unusual test-score gains at some schools. Investigators discovered a pattern of incorrect test answers being erased and replaced with correct answers.
In a bid to increase stability as it seeks to overcome the scandal and receive full reaccreditation, the board extended Davis’s contract through June 2012.
Davis recently retired as chancellor of the University System of Georgia.