ATLANTA — Eleven of 12 former educators on trial for the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal were found guilty of racketeering charges and were immediately handcuffed to be transported to jails in Fulton County to await sentencing.
All face in access of 20 years in prison, though the judge has wide discretion in handing down their sentences. Though the educators face a minimum of five years in prison, the judge in the case could sentence them to probation or suspend the sentences altogether.
One defendant, Dessa Curb, was cleared of all charges. Also, the so-called mastermind behind arguably the largest public school cheating scandal in U.S. history, former Superintendent Beverly Hall, succumbed to breast cancer not long after the trial started.
The jury’s decision was returned seven years after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigative report unveiled irregularities in the test scores.
The judge denied defense attorneys’ requests to allow the guilty former teachers to return home to get their affairs in order before returning for sentencing.
“It’s not one of the things I get a kick out of, but they have made their bed and they’re going to have to lie in it,” Baxter said.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard celebrated with his team after the verdict saying this was a win for the community and will improve the Atlanta Public School system overall.
“We’ve been fighting for the children in our community, particularly those children who were deprived by this cheating scandal,” Howard said during a press conference following the trial.
Baxter set sentencing for the 11 former educators for next Wednesday.