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POLITICS: Mitchell legislation says cheating teachers must pay back bonuses

Camie Young

Camie Young

A Gwinnett legislator will play a role in the aftermath of Atlanta's cheating scandal.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell, the Stone Mountain Democrat whose district includes a portion of the county, plans to introduce legislation that would require educators guilty of CRCT cheating to return any bonuses or incentive pay to their local school system.

"It is not uncommon for administrators or teachers to receive bonuses or other pay incentives based on their students' achievement levels on the CRCT," Mitchell said in a press release. "This legislation simply calls for the return of any funds to the school system that were paid to any administrator or teacher who admits to or is found guilty of cheating or causing the cheating on any standardized test. By passing this legislation, Georgians will be able to rest assured that those relative few bad actors would not be unjustly enriched, while their students are placed in peril."

The legislation would penalize those whose bonuses or increases were based either in whole or in part on falsified standardized test scores. The legislation would apply to teachers and professionals who personally falsified information, as well as those that knew that the student assessment results or standardized test scores were falsified by others. Any teacher or certified professional falling under these categories would automatically forfeit his or her right to any promised salary increase or bonus, the release said.

"No one condones cheating," said Georgia Federation of Teachers President Verdailia Turner, giving support to the bill. "The ill-gotten fruits of cheating should be returned to Georgia's children. This proposal is both a fair and common-sense approach."

Calvine Rollins, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, gave support, too.

"This proposed legislation would not affect honest educators, and would only apply to cases that have been fully vetted for the validity of the evidence," Rollins said. "The current version protects educators' due process under Georgia's Fair Dismissal Law, and we want to ensure that this protection remains in the legislation's final language."

GOP undecided

on meetings

Local Republicans have not yet decided whether to decrease the number of official meetings each year.

The Gwinnett GOP met last week to consider the rule change, which would have decreased the number of official meetings from 11 to four a year.

According to an email from Chairman Bruce LeVell, the activists had "a very thoughtful and productive discussion about the rules change, but ultimately the decision was postponed until a future meeting to allow continued dialogue on the issue."

LeVell said he expects to reach a consensus soon.

"The bottom line is that we are all interested in the same thing -- getting Republicans elected to office, including one in particular, whoever he or she may be," the email said. "I left the meeting very enthusiastic about our next steps."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.