6 More School Employees Plea Guilty in Atlanta Cheating Scandal

January 8, 2014

Six defendants, including the second principal in the case, pleaded guilty Monday in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal.

Former Parks Middle School teacher Starlette Mitchell was the first former educator to enter a plea to a reduced charge. She accepted responsibility for her role in the case during a hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.

Five more defendants entered guilty pleas. Following Mitchell to the defense table were former Venetian Hills Elementary principal Clarietta Davis, former Parks teacher Kimberly Oden, former Dobbs Elementary teacher Derrick Broadwater, former Kennedy Middle secretary Carol Dennis and former Dunbar Elementary teacher Gloria Ivey.

Baxter required the other APS defendants, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, to remain in his courtroom while their co-defendants entered their guilty pleas.

“You need to stay and listen,” Baxter told one lawyer who asked whether he and his client needed to stay in the courtroom.

Before adjourning for lunch, Baxter promised those wishing to go forward that he will give them a fair trial. But if the trial does not turn out well for them, Baxter warned, “There will be severe consequences.”

Lead prosecutor Fani Willis told Baxter that three of the remaining defendants, including former APS human resources director Millicent Few, remain actively involved in plea negotiations.

Mitchell, who began working for APS after graduating from college, admitted to changing answers from wrong to right on the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. According to court records, Mitchell was pressured and harassed by co-defendant, former Parks principal Christopher Waller, to engage in test cheating.