- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - An ex-middle school teacher who testified in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial Thursday said she sent a series of anonymous letters to district officials saying a principal was pressuring teachers to cheat.

Former teacher Stacey Johnson said she refused requests by former Parks Middle School principal Christopher Waller to cheat on the 2006 CRCT exam. Johnson said she told Waller’s supervisor about the cheating and wrote to ex-superintendent Beverly Hall and others detailing that and other issues.

Waller has already pleaded guilty to his role in the cheating scandal and is also expected to testify. Hall, who has denied any wrongdoing, is battling breast cancer and isn’t among the 12 defendants on trial. An initial indictment implicated 35 former APS educators and prosecutors have reached plea deals with 21 of them.

Johnson said Waller used a divide and conquer strategy to intimidate teachers into cheating on the standardized tests.

“Every other word was ‘who’s on my team?’ ‘Are you a team player?’ Those who were swayed, who wanted to remain in Mr. Waller’s good graces, he considered them to be on his team. Individuals such as myself, who would not be swayed to conform to the cheating, we were not considered on his team,” WSB-TV quoted Johnson as saying.

Johnson said she resigned after regional director Michael Pitts came to the school and told teachers to stop whining and writing letters. Johnson said Waller called police to have her escorted from campus before her last day.

Another former Parks Middle School teacher, Fabiola Aurelien, once taught math and testified that she repeatedly complained about cheating at the school. After leaving Parks, Aurelien began working as a high school math teacher and said she encountered a student who could barely write or do basic math.

Aurelien said she sent Waller an email after the girl blamed her struggles on having attended Parks. Aurelien tearfully said she told Waller he was lucky that no one cared to find out what he was doing to his students.

The trial is expected to resume Monday.

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