By John Schaffner
?The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods voted unanimously Thursday night, Aug. 12, to urge the Fulton County District Attorney to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged cheating at possibly 58 schools in the Atlanta Public School system on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Exam.
?BCN representatives listened to almost more than an hour of discussion by APS Board member Nancy Meister, of Buckhead, and Ponder Harrison, an independent member of the “blue ribbon commission” that investigated the alleged cheating scandal, as well as comments from BCN members and three reported representatives of the NAACP.
?After Meister and Harrison had left the meeting, the new Atlanta Police Zone 2 Community Prosecutor Hannah Chung, who works for the Fulton DA’s office, told BCN members that the DA’s office has a Public Integrity Unit, which deals with issues such as those involving the Atlanta Public Schools cheating probe.
?BCN representatives voiced their concerns that the “blue ribbon commission’s” report was a sham, because key members of the commission do millions of dollars of business with the school system, and questioned the response of the school board and school administration to the report.
?Superintendent Beverley Hall reported that she had transferred the principals of 12 of the schools considered most problematic in the test score erasures scandal and had referred 108 staff members to a state review commission for further investigation.
?The BCN then voted to urge Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard to proceed with a full-blown investigation of the alleged CRCT test cheating and asked Chung to deliver that message to the DA.
?Attorney Glenn Delk, who represents the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood and heads up the BCN’s Education Committee, urged the investigation by the Fulton DA because he has subpoena powers and the “blue ribbon commission” appointed by the school board did not have those powers, which limited their investigatory powers.
?What started out as a presentation by APS Board Member Meister and Harrison about the report presented by the commission Aug. 2 and Meister’s vote that day not to accept the report, quickly turned into a venting of outrage by the BCN members and guests regarding the level of education of APS youth, the taxpayers’ cost for that education and the administrative abilities of APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall.
?Delk, who is working with the three NAACP representatives who attended the meeting to open a charter school in southeast Atlanta, also passed out copies at the meeting of a resolution he plans to introduce at next month’s BCN meeting that will call APS to put the administration and operation of the school system up for bid among outside professional education companies as well as present superintendent, Dr. Hall beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.
?If passed by the BCN next month, the resolution would be presented to the APS board and administration for consideration and execution. It could result in the present administration of the Atlanta Public Schools system turning over operations control to an outside vendor.
(Check this website for updates on this story and the BCN meeting on Friday, Aug. 13)