ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors' allegations that former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall participated in a scheme to inflate test scores to pad her bonuses are false and misleading, her lawyers said Monday.
A Fulton County grand jury indicted Hall and 34 subordinates last month, accusing them of involvement in a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers. Prosecutors say the educators were driven at least in part by bonuses for improved student performance.
In a statement released Monday, Hall's lawyers took issue with media reports that they say implied that Hall received more than $500,000 in bonuses based on test scores.
"This is false information or at best misleading since it aggregates Dr. Hall's approximate bonuses over some ten years," the statement said. "In any given year, Dr. Hall's bonus was a small fraction of this amount and was tied to 25 or more performance objectives established by the Atlanta Board of Education."
A majority of those criteria had nothing to do with test results, the statement said.
Hall served as superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools for more than a decade. The other former employees named in the indictment included four high-level administrators, six principals, two assistant principals, six testing coordinators, 14 teachers, a school improvement specialist and a school secretary.
All those named in the indictment face conspiracy charges. Other charges in the 65-count indictment include false statements and writings, false swearing, theft and influencing witnesses.
The allegations date to 2005. The criminal investigation lasted 21 months and involved at least 50 schools, as well as hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students. The district has about 50,000 students.
The achievements of Atlanta public school teachers and their students "are being disparaged and summarily dismissed in an effort to vilify Dr. Hall," her lawyers said.
"Millions of dollars in precious public funds have been thrown at this effort to recharacterize isolated misconduct into a system wide criminal enterprise led by Dr. Hall, when that money could have been far better spent," the statement said.
Hall is under a court-imposed gag order, but this is the second time in a week that her lawyers have made public statements challenging the charges against her. Lawyer Richard Deane last week said the charges against Hall are excessive and there is no evidence to support them.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.