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Teacher pleads guilty in Atlanta cheating case

A second teacher has pleaded guilty in the Atlanta test cheating case, receiving one year of probation through a deal with prosecutors. (AJC)
A second teacher has pleaded guilty in the Atlanta test cheating case, receiving one year of probation through a deal with prosecutors. (AJC)
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Updated: 12/14/2013 11:34 am
ATLANTA, Ga. (AJC) -- A second teacher has pleaded guilty in the Atlanta test cheating case, receiving one year of probation through a deal with prosecutors.

The plea agreement for former Humphries Elementary teacher Ingrid Abella-Sly leaves 32 defendants left in the conspiracy case against educators accused of changing students’ standardized test answers in order to meet academic goals.

Abella-Sly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge, and she’ll have to perform 250 hours of community service for students affected by the scandal, according to the plea agreement. She also must repay $500 that she received as a bonus payment for her students’ falsely earned scores.

“The school system had unreasonable expectations that neither I nor the students could meet,” Abella-Sly wrote in a letter Friday to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter. “Because of increasing and unreasonable pressure from my supervisors I made a poor decision to help children cheat on the 2009 CRCT. I realize now that this only hurt the students in the long run.”

Abella-Sly admitted in her plea agreement that she gave answers to students so they could reach academic targets.

Additional plea deals may be coming.

Baxter has set a Jan. 6 deadline for defendants to negotiate pleas with prosecutors. Baxter will accept the terms of deals recommended by prosecutors and defendants before his deadline; guilty pleas entered after that date hold no such guarantee.

The first guilty plea in the case came last month, when Humphries Elementary School teacher Lisa Terry made an deal similar to Abella-Sly’s.

Both Terry and Abella-Sly agreed to cooperate and testify for prosecutors, who in turn dismissed all felony charges against them.

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall is among the remaining defendants who prosecutors allege participated in a conspiracy to inflate test results.

Prosecutors claim Hall pressured educators to achieve high standards, and those who failed to do so felt like they could lose their jobs. Those who succeeded earned bonus money.
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