APS Superintendent testifies in trial of administrator

APS Superintendent testifies in trial of administrator

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The state rested its case Tuesday against a former Atlanta Public Schools leader accused of encouraging a principal to write the Georgia Bureau of Investigation a "go to hell" memo.

The accused administrator, Tamara Cotman, denies the charge. The former APS leader faces one count of influencing a witness during the cheating investigation.

Current APS Superintendent Erroll Davis took the stand on Tuesday, saying even he was surprised at the ugly details.

Davis told jurors he believes the district's leaders -- including former superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall -- are responsible for the improprieties that occurred on the Criterion Reference Competency Test. Davis says the district went beyond state investigators and commissioned two independent studies of 2009 testing data before firing educators.

"All three methodologies indicated that what had occurred could not have occurred without human intervention. It was not random," Davis said.

Reading from Cotman's termination letter, Davis told jurors that the administrator was let go due to "(1) Incompetency, (2) insubordination, (3) willful neglect of duties and (4) other good and sufficient cause."

Prosecutors say Tamara Cotman told principals not to cooperate with investigators who were looking into test tampering.

Also on Tuesday, jurors heard from Dr. Monica Hooker, a former reading specialist at Best Academy. Hooker was brought to tears as she described students who had soaring scores but were actually behind three or four grade levels in reading. She said that she became distraught when she administered a reading diagnostic test and found that students were several grades behind.

Hooker testified that she began working with the middle school boys and increased their scores, but Cotman, her regional school director, told her she was "not playing on the right team" and transferred her to Harper Archer Middle School.

Hooker testified that Cotman made a threat to the entire staff. Hooker, who now teaches in DeKalb County, said she reported the threat to authorities.

Cotman and 34 others were charged in the cheating scandal. This trial deals with the one count of influencing a witness.

Late in the afternoon, the defense called two principals, who said that they were at the meeting and denied that Cotman asked them to write the memos to the GBI.

The defense will continue on Wednesday.

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