ATLANTA - Former Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall apologized Friday to the people of Atlanta and their children for "any shortcomings," but says the educators involved in the district's cheating scandal bear the "moral responsibility."
Hall's comments came in a statement released by her attorney Richard Deane and that will appear as an op-ed piece in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The comments, first reported by the newspaper, follow the release of a state investigation Tuesday that revealed cheating on state-mandated standardized tests in nearly half the district's 100 schools.
In the statement, Hall pointed to an anonymous hotline that she established for ethics complaints, but acknowledged that it "now appears that our efforts and procedures were not enough."
"To the extent that I failed to take measures that would have prevented what the investigators have disclosed, I am accountable, as head of the school system, for failing to act accordingly," Hall wrote. "If I did anything that gave teachers the impression that I was unapproachable and unresponsive to their concerns, I also apologize for that."
The statement marks the first time Hall, who recently retired, has personally responded since the state investigation was made public earlier in the week.
In the state report, investigators found that Hall either knew or should have known about the cheating in the district. Deane has repeatedly denied those allegations.
State investigators also found multiple teachers reported to Hall and other top administrators that cheating was happening in schools, but the complaints were not addressed adequately. In all, 82 educators of the 178 educators identified admitted to changing answers on Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, helping guide students to the correct answer or ordering other educators to cheat.
The investigators found the cheating dated back to 2001 but became rampant in 2005. The testing problems came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable. The state released audits of test results after the newspaper published its analysis of the test scores.
In her statement, Hall defended the district's academic progress, saying the cheating doesn't undermine the work of students and the majority of teachers. She pointed to scores on national tests that have risen in recent years.
"It is my hope that APS parents and supporters will not read the report as a sweeping indictment of the Atlanta Public Schools and the accomplishments of the past decade," Hall wrote.
She said she is "shocked and saddened" by the facts uncovered by the investigation.