A retired teacher delivered shocking testimony this week in the Atlanta schools cheating scandal, saying that her primary role when she was hired at a struggling elementary school was to erase certain answers on the state academic competency test, according to WTOC 11.
The teacher, Lavonia Ferrell, (pictured left) testified Tuesday at the trial of 12 former Atlanta Public Schools educators and administrators accused of cheating, lying and stealing as part of a widespread but cleverly-disguised conspiracy to improve state test scores for thousands of students, according to media reports.
Ferrell, who retired after 34 years in the public school system, said she was hired at Deerwood Academy in Atlanta, Ga., as a substitute testing coordinator in 2008 and 2009 by Tebekka Jordan, a defendant in the case, to cheat on the Georgia’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. At the time, Jordan was the assistant principal, and Sharon Williams, another defendant, was the executive director.
WTOC 11 reports:
“I erased answers after being asked to do so on the math portion of student’s test sheets at Deerwood,” Ferrell said.
When asked who asked her to erase the answers, Ferrell said, “Ms. Jordan asked me to.”
Ferrell received immunity for her testimony in the trial for Jordan, Williams, and several others, who are accused of cheating for big bonuses. At Jordan’s request, Ferrell reportedly recruited a substitute teacher to help in the scheme.
Ferrell testified that she was not proud of what she did.
“It’s not easy to admit the cheating scandal. My view is that we were trying to do the right thing, but it was all wrong,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell received immunity for her testimony, but when investigators started questioning her at first, she lied to them.
“I was burdened down with all this guilty, and having brought another person into it,” she said.
The trial represents one of the largest schools cheating scandals in recent history in the U.S.. Nearly 35 educators were indicted, but 21 agreed to plea deals, while another educator died, the report says. Beverly Hall, a former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent. was also accused, but will not stand trial because she is battling Stage IV breast cancer, according to her doctors, the report says.
Read more at WTOC 11.