Former Wichita school official found not guilty in Atlanta cheating case

09/06/2013 10:42 AM

09/06/2013 10:42 AM

A former upper-level administrator for Wichita schools was found not guilty Friday of charges related to the Atlanta schools test-cheating scandal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Tamara Cotman, the first defendant in the test-cheating scandal, was accused of intimidating witnesses, including a principal and other staff, in an effort to hinder an investigation. She was put on administrative leave in 2011 after an investigation showed widespread cheating.

Cotman moved to Atlanta in 2004 from Wichita, where she served three years as assistant superintendent for elementary schools under former superintendent Winston Brooks.

Before that, Cotman – who grew up in Wichita and graduated from Southeast High School – was a fifth-grade teacher at Cloud Elementary and principal at Park Elementary in Wichita.

An Atlanta jury acquitted Cotman, a former area director with oversight of 21 schools, of charges that she influenced a witness who claimed Cotman instructed principals to tell investigators to “go to hell,” the Journal-Constitution reported.

Her successful defense may have weakened the case against those facing charges on allegations of falsifying standardized test scores. Earlier this year, prosecutors obtained a sweeping racketeering indictment against nearly three dozen former Atlanta public school executives and teachers, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall.

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