The Atlanta Public School System Convictions and Sentences

The case against the Atlanta Public School System began with cheating and ended with prison sentences. There were 35 educators and administrators indicted. Two of them died before they could be tried, including Beverly Hall, the former superintendent of the APS, who died following a battle with breast cancer. Twelve went to trial, and 11 were convicted. The remaining individuals had plea agreements.

The racketeering charges related to the cheating scandal (one of the largest in U.S.history, and that is saying something given that there have been scandals in 39 states and D.C.) that permeated the school district for almost a decade. The governor’s task force report on the cheating scandal named 178 principals and teachers who were involved in everything from giving out answers to “test clean-up parties” where they put on gloves and changed students’ answer sheets. Of that 178, many retired, some resigned, and some were fired.

The sentences handed out for the convicted were stiff, up to seven years of prison time for eight of the eleven found guilty. Van Jones argued in USA Today that the educators were not mobsters and all they did was “quietly change students answers on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.” Who does this kind of thing noisily?

Mr. Jones scoffed at the racketeering charges because the educators are not mobsters. What do you call an enterprise that obtains money (bonuses) through fraud and deception? Mr. Jones also noted that they had spotless records — no prior criminal records. Bernie Ebbers, Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, and a host of other business leaders also had spotless records, but got sentences ranging from 7 to 25 years to life. The focus in sentencing is not on a spotless record but on the harm caused, deference, and evidence of the admission of wrongdoing. Poor, African-American children went years with no progress in their education. Some are four grade levels behind. They were robbed of their futures. The educators simply could not admit that what they ddi was wrong.

In fact, before the educators were sentenced Judge Jerry Baxter postponed his decision and encouraged the educators to admit wrongdoing, work with the prosecutors, and pray for “the cheated kids.” The educators refused to admit guilt, and the result was the sentences that are surely headed for an appeal. All are now punished.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
This entry was posted in Analysis. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.