Jury deliberations underway for educator charged in APS cheating - CBS46 News

Jury deliberations underway for educator charged in APS cheating scandal

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

A Fulton County jury will continue deliberations in the trial of a former executive director for Atlanta Public Schools accused of cheating on the CRCT.

On Thursday, prosecutor Fani Willis gave a passionate closing argument in the state's case against Tamara Cotman.

"Tell her you will not sit back in silence while she steals children's education and intimidates witnesses. Tell her they [the children] got one shot, and you will find her guilty," said Willis.

As an executive director, Cotman was in charge of 21 schools. She is accused of intimidating a principal.

"These are babies, do you understand this? We are talking about second-graders, 7 years old to eighth-graders, 13- and 14-year olds. That's whose lives we are playing with," said Willis. "They are mostly minority, and they are mostly poor. Does that mean they don't have value or worth? Somebody ought to be a little angry. We are not going to throw away our children."

Cotman is the first to go to trial. She was charged in the cheating scandal along with 34 other APS educators.

"Was there cheating? Check! Did she [Cotman] know about it? Check! Was she trying to hinder the exposure of it? Check! It gets you to guilty all day every day," said Willis.

Cotman's attorney, Benjamin Davis, took a more subtle approach during his closing argument.

"They [prosecutors] want you to spend all this time with cheating evidence that this woman [Cotman] isn't even charged with," said Davis. "She's charged with preventing Jimmye Hawkins from talking to the GBI."

Davis said his client had no reason to intimidate Hawkins.

"They will come in here and tell you that she knew Jimmye Hawkins was cooperating with the GBI, which would make no sense because Jimmy Hawkins came from a school where there was no cheating, and she just got promoted," said Davis. "Why would she be thinking Jimmye Hawkins is out to get her? She just promoted her."

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