By John Schaffner

johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall announced Nov. 20 that she doesn’t plan to return next school year, ending speculation as to whether or not she chose on her own not to return and whether or not the Board of Education would offer to renew her contract.

According to a press release issued by Keith Bromery, director of public relations for Atlanta Public Schools, Hall had notified school board members late Nov. 19 that she will not seek another contract when her current contract expires June 30.

Dr. Hall has come under increasing criticism as state investigators have escalated a massive investigation of suspected cheating in 58 Atlanta elementary and middle schools. According to sources, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has used 50 agents to already question some 500 teachers and staff at Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and may question another 500.

The announcement also comes one day after the Atlanta Journal and Constitution wrote an editorial stating that Dr. Hall should resign or be ousted. The AJC Editorial Board’s Opinion: “The APS superintendent’s response to test-score probes proves she values her image more than children’s education. For students’ sake, she must go.”

Referencing a report that Hall received last May that substantiated reports of questionable test score increases, the AJC editorial said the fact the report was kept from the public and most of the school board members,  “suggests the scandal has expanded from inadequately addressed cheating allegations to a cover-up intended to protect image and not children.”

The editorial went on to state: “Her response to allegations of cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test has done nothing but tarnish her legacy and damage the public’s trust in an already fragile school district. It’s time for a new chapter for Atlanta Public Schools. Beverly Hall should resign immediately or be terminated.”

In the press release, Hall said: “It has been an honor to serve as superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools for the last 11 years. Because of the hard work of APS teachers, principals, administrators, board members and others, as well as the community at large, we have made significant progress.

“I will be taking on new educational challenges when my contract expires in June 2011, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those whose dedication and hard work have helped lift the educational achievements of APS students.”

Following is the full content of the statement from Superintendent Dr. Hall in the press release:

“It has been an honor to serve as superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools for the last 11 years. Because of the hard work of APS teachers, principals, administrators, board members and others, as well as the community at large, we have made significant progress.

“I will be taking on new educational challenges when my contract expires in June 2011, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those whose dedication and hard work have helped lift the educational achievements of APS students.

“When I arrived in 1999, APS was at a critical crossroads. The school system was losing students and veteran educators to other school systems. Five superintendents had served in just 10 years. Student performance was at a low point.

“Today, student achievement has risen significantly. The 2010 CRCT test results demonstrate that we have made significant progress since 1999, and APS students have scored record gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“These accomplishments are the work of many people in our school system and in our community. From parents, community, religious and civic leaders to captains of industry and educational institutions that invested their time and resources, I offer my thanks for your support and your unwavering belief in our students and our school system.

“We face significant challenges over the next several months, including a visit by SACS and resolution of the state investigation into possible test tampering in some APS schools. My goal over the coming months is to resolve our pressing issues and position the school system for a generation of new leadership.

“Again, I extend my thanks to all who have invested their time and resources into making APS one of the best urban school systems in the nation.

Sincerely,

Dr. Beverly L. Hall

Superintendent

Atlanta Public Schools

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.