Former Scott Elementary School Interim Principal Jimmye Hawkins said Tamara Cotman, a former regional director for Atlanta Public Schools, instructed her and other staff to tell Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents to "go to hell" while they investigated a suspicious number of corrected answers on the CRCTs.
"All I could think of was, 'This is wrong. You're asking me to write a 'go to hell' memo to the GBI,'" Hawkins said.
Hawkins became principal at Scott Elementary after its previous principal was removed because of cheating allegations. Hawkins said when she came to the school, students were far behind where they should have been academically. She said Cotman wanted her struggling students to go through a 12-week program to get them up to speed.
"I had 130 kids in third, fourth and fifth grade in that 12-week intervention program out of 200 students in the school," Hawkins said. "That's how many students had failed reading and math on the CRCT."
Hawkins said trying to get students caught up on years' worth of lessons they needed in three months was an impossible task.
"Here we were trying to catch them up in 12 weeks, and you had fifth graders that were reading on a kindergarten level," Hawkins said. "They were just done a disservice."
Hawkins testified that when she tried to tell Cotman the children needed more time, Cotman intimidated her.
"If you expressed any sort of concern like that it was, 'That's excuses, I'm not going to take those excuses and if you can't do the job I can remove you from the job,'" Hawkins said.
Cotman is accused of influencing witnesses during the GBI's investigation.
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