APS interim superintendent testifies against educator charged - CBS46 News

APS interim superintendent testifies against educator charged with cheating

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Atlanta Public Schools Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis told jurors he had to make some tough decisions immediately after taking the job.

"I had to remove approximately 180 educators from their positions in a short period of time then rebuild the organization, knowing school would open in less than two months after that," said Davis.

Davis was the final witness to take the stand in the state's case against former APS Executive Director Tamara Cotman.

"I felt those who were directly involved in cheating, or allowed cheating to take place knowingly or unknowingly should be moved from their positions and certainly not have any direct contact with children," said Davis.

Former APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall hired Cotman, and Davis fired her. Davis read part of the charge letter the district sent Cotman.

"Dear Ms. Cotman this letter is official notice to inform you that the Atlanta Public School system intends to terminate your employment contract on grounds of incompetency, insubordination, willful neglect of duty and other good and sufficient charges."

Cotman is the first of 35 educators accused of cheating on the 2009 CRCT to go to trial. She is charged with racketeering and influencing a witness. Her current trial only covers the influencing a witness charge.

Davis told jurors when he took over, the school district was a mess and he blamed Hall.

"I believe all issues are leadership issues. I do not blame workers for failure," said Davis. "I saw some very basic things missing in the structure, like compliance with policy function, and compliance with law function. What I saw could have been expected in such an environment."

The state rested its case after Davis. The defense put three witnesses on the stand who had positive things to say about Cotman's character.

The judge sent the jury home early so Cotman and her attorney can decide if she will testify. The trial will resume Wednesday.

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