Atlanta Judge Imposes Jail Time and Fines on Convicted Educators

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Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter listens as Sidnye Fells, former Dobbs Elementary teacher, testifies Tuesday morning. KENT D. JOHNSON

Honorable Judge Jerry W. Baxter, who presided over the trial of Atlanta educators who cheated on tests and were convicted of racketeering, briefly reconsidered the sentences he would mete out.

While it appeared that he might not send the disgraced educators to jail, his sentences were indeed harsh. Some of them will spend seven years in jail.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigative journalism is credited with first examining the corruption within the city’s public school system. On Tuesday, the newspaper published photos of each of those who took plea deals and the sentences they received.

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* Donald Bullock (pictured above left by AP) was first. Witnesses testified that Bullock urged them to change test answers, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. The former testing coordinator was ordered to serve five years probation, six months of weekends behind bars, pay a $5,000 fine and perform 1,500 hours of community service. As part of his deal, Bullock agreed to waive his right to appeal.

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* Angela Williamson, a former teacher, (pictured above center by AP) was ordered to serve two years in prison. She was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 1,500 hours of community service.

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* Pamela Cleveland, a former teacher, was ordered to serve one year home confinement, pay a $1,000 fine and perform 1,000 hours of community service. “I am guilty of the charges against me,” Cleveland said in court.

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* Michael Pitts, a former schools executive, (pictured above center by AP) was accused of telling teachers to cheat and then telling them not to talk to Georgia Bureau of Investigators who were looking into the scandal. He was ordered to serve seven years in prison, perform 2,000 hours of community service and pay a $25,000 fine.

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* Tamara Cotman, a former schools administrator, (pictured above center by AP) was ordered to serve seven years in prison, pay a $25,000 fine and perform 2000 hours of community service.

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* Dana Evans, a former principal, (pictured above center by AP) was ordered to serve one year and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

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*Tabeeka Jordan, former assistant principal, (pictured above center by AP) was ordered to serve two years in prison, perform 1,500 hours of community service and pay $5,000 fine

* Theresia Copeland, a former test coordinator, was ordered to serve one year in prison, perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

* Diane Buckner-Webb, a former teacher, was ordered to serve one year in prison, perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

In addition, all of the convicted educators lost their license, their pensions, and five years of compensation.

If only all those bankers who nearly destroyed the economy in 2008 had been dealt with as harshly. But they were “too big to fail.”

>>> Read more

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