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Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Prison Time Cut by Half for Three Educators

Judges Amends Lengthy Sentences in Atlanta School Testing Scandal 1:58

A judge cut prison sentences by more than half Thursday for three former Atlanta educators convicted in a cheating scandal.

Former administrators Sharon Davis-Williams and Tamara Cotman and former schools executive Michael Pitts were each given three years in prison, seven years of probation and a $10,000 fine.

At their original sentencing on April 15, they had been given seven years in prison and 13 years’ probation and a $25,000 fine.

At the time, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter called the case "the sickest thing that's ever happened in this town." But he decided he was "not comfortable" with the original sentences he had imposed.

"I have done a lot of reflecting on my sentence that I rendered two weeks ago. I’m not comfortable with it," he said at the hearing Thursday. "When a judge goes home and he keeps thinking over and over that something's wrong, something is usually wrong."

Baxter added that he wanted to modify the sentence so he could "live with it."

Prosecutors said the group conspired to cheat on standardized tests, changing wrong answers to correct ones, going back to 2005, under pressure to meet federal and local testing standards. The Atlanta school system has 50,000 students.

Nine of the 10 ex-educators convicted in the scandal received jail time. The prison sentences ranged from one to seven years. Of the ten, two agreed to a plea deal: Donald Bullock, a former testing coordinator who received six months of weekends in jail, and teacher Pamela Cleveland, who received one year of home confinement plus five years’ probation.

Teachers in Atlanta cheating scandal convicted 2:48

IN-DEPTH

— Daniella Silva