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Friday, July 8, 2011 - 4:36am

Dougherty Co. Schools Probe To Continue

Governor Nathan Deal says a state probe into possible cheating on standardized tests in Dougherty County schools will continue. The decision will keep two special investigators on the job to complete the probe they began nearly a year ago. Former Attorney General Mike Bowers heads the investigations, and informed the Governor of his opinion.

“After reviewing the preliminary results of the investigation in Dougherty County on Wednesday and today (Thursday), contrary to my initial impression, I do not believe the investigation should be terminated,” said former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers in a message sent to the Governor’s Office Thursday. “Given those preliminary results, it is my recommendation that we complete the investigation in Dougherty. We will do this expeditiously with as little intrusion into the school system as is possible.”

Deal's predecessor, Governor Sonny Perdue, ordered the state investigation at Dougherty County and Atlanta schools in August. A state audit found an unusually high number of erasures on tests in both districts.

“After completing the Atlanta Public Schools report, we had hoped that we were at a stopping point,” said Deal. “Unfortunately, I received word Thursday that the investigators’ review of their preliminary results in Dougherty County has raised grave concerns. We owe it to the children of Dougherty County to get answers, and our commitment to equal protection under the law requires us to treat all jurisdictions equally. In other words, the state simply cannot single out Atlanta if strong evidence suggests similar patterns elsewhere.

“I have instructed the investigators to present me with a complete report of their investigation into the Dougherty County School System as quickly as possible.”

The investigators released their findings on Atlanta schools Tuesday. They uncovered cheating by 178 educators in 44 schools.