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Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - 9:09am

Help For Targeted Teachers

Investigations continue into possible wrongdoing on CRCT tests by some Atlanta and Dougherty County teachers. The state’s largest teachers group wants to make sure there's help for any of its member-educators affected by the probe.

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators already provides five on-staff attorneys and connections to 60 others statewide for use by teacher members for any legal issue.

But Tim Callahan with PAGE says the group wanted to make sure teachers under investigation in southwest Georgia have all resources available to them, for what he calls a “career threatening issue”.

“We were concerned that there were some educators in Albany who were members who were maybe not aware that they could get legal services from us or whatever. And we said ‘hey we’re here if you need us. This is a serious matter so you might want to give us a call’.”

Callahan says PAGE is already helping some Atlanta and Albany-area teachers.

In August, Governor Sonny Perdue ordered a special group of investigators to look into an unusual high number of erasure marks on 2009 standardized tests in the Atlanta and Dougherty County systems.

Callahan says the governor’s investigation was “heavy-handed” in its initial approach.

“Let’s have the presumption of innocence please before we have guilt. And let’s have an investigation, that’s fine you can investigate, but people who are investigated have a right to legal counsel.”

Bert Brantley with the Governor's office says the special investigative group, led by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, is "not looking to criminalize actions." Brantley says the governor only wants to get to the truth of schools and educators under suspicion in Atlanta and Dougherty County.

He says officials with both systems have been "very cooperative" so far. There is no timetable for completion of the investigation, which Brantley says could come after Perdue leaves office.

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