State vs. Tamara Cotman

September 6, 2013

“Two and a half years ago, after a lengthy State investigation, my office accepted the responsibility of evaluating the Atlanta Public School system to determine whether “cheating” took place with respect to student standardized testing between the years of 2007 and 2011. When we accepted this challenge we realized that our task would not be an easy one—nor one that could be accomplished within a short period of time. Despite the difficulty of the task before us, we promised the citizens of our community—and most importantly its children– that we would pursue justice wherever that trail might lead.

At the end of our evaluation, we concluded that the children of Atlanta had been systematically deprived of an education while adults profited. We sought and received a felony criminal indictment against 35 Atlanta Public School administrators, staffers and teachers.

Today, a Fulton County jury acquitted one of those administrators in a one count indictment charging her with ‘influencing a witness.’ Although we are disappointed in the verdict, we respect the decision of the jury and will now focus upon the major trial scheduled to take place in May 2014. During the trial just completed, we were not required to prove cheating, but presented evidence of cheating, nonetheless, as motive and a key element of the ‘influencing’ statute. We were encouraged by the statement and sentiment of the jurors with whom we discussed the case who stated, ‘If we had been asked to return a verdict about cheating, we would have found her guilty in two (2) minutes.’ We stand disappointed but not deterred.”

Paul L. Howard, Jr.
District Attorney

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