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Latarski: Hard to be surprised
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What a, uh, surprise.

The investigation into the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal revealed there were a lot of people involved, including those in the very top positions of the organization.

Initially the standard line from those in charge was that incidents of cheating and manipulating test scores were isolated incidents perpetrated by singularly misguided individuals. We now know this was not the case and cheating was not only widespread and indicative of a systemic problem but efforts were made to cover up the transgressions and to punish those who attempted to bring light to the problems.

The damage done to the school system as a whole and children in particular as a result of the years of misconduct is almost beyond calculation.

Certainly the ramifications will be lingering for many years to come.

Superintendent Beverly Hall is still attempting to deflect her own culpability in the matter while others are pointing fingers in hopes of lessening their own blame.

You have to wonder if these are the people the teacher always had to remind to keep their eyes on their own paper.

Given their conduct it is not even unreasonable to question the quality of their educational achievements and very easy to think they cheated and connived their way through school.

Given the lack of integrity they have shown there is no reason to believe they did not act in a similar manner while pursuing their own educational goals.

They didn't even prove to be very bright when it came to cheating.

Instead of filling out whole new answer sheet they erased and changed answers, thereby leaving a trail of evidence.

Hall - and I will not use Doctor in front of her name because it would be an insult to anyone who worked hard to acquire a Ph.D. - and all those in the top administrative levels must not only be ousted but every effort must be made to strip them of any qualifying credentials so they will not burrow into the ground and pop-up in charge of some unsuspecting school district in Oregon.

Being unencumbered with a legal education I do not know what statutes may be applicable but if there is any chance for criminal prosecution I it will be pursued with full vigor.

The idea of burning the letter "C" for "cheater" into their forehead may be unacceptable but that doesn't make it a bad idea.

These people neither deserve nor warrant our sympathy and any excuse they give is wholly unacceptable.

While some teachers and even principles may have felt cajoled or possibly blackmailed into their actions, and some may have a case, the people at the top have absolutely no such excuse.

They are the architects of this corruption, the masters of protecting themselves at all costs through any means they deemed necessary.

These people made a deliberate and conscious decision to behave in a manner even the dumbest kid in the class knows is wrong.

The fish stinks from the head and the Atlanta Public School system is one of the biggest stinking fish we've seen in a while.

Certainly there are still good people doing good work in the Atlanta school system who will not be saddled with suspicion and will forever have to work under a cloud.

The clean-up of this mess will be a long and arduous one.

We have seen some changes already and may expect many more.

While they may not be Al Capone criminal prosecution is appropriate. These people abused the public trust in the most despicable manner and made victims of the most vulnerable of our assets, children.

A little time sitting in prison would be a grand opportunity for them to reflect upon their actions as well as serving notice to others in similar positions who might be considering the same action.

And if they still see themselves as educators, so much the better. There are a lot of people in prison who still need to learn how to read and write.

Freeland writer Ric Latarski can be reached at