Judge reduces sentences in APS case

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter on Thursday reduced the sentences of three former educators convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal.

Baxter sentenced Tamara Cotman, Sharon Davis-Williams and Michael Pitts during a hearing Thursday to serve three years in prison. Baxter sentenced them earlier this month to serve seven years in prison, angering many community leaders who felt the sentences were too harsh.

The three were convicted by a jury of conspiring to help or encourage other educators to change student answers on state standardized exams. The Atlanta test-cheating scandal, which included nearly three dozen indictments, was considered to be the largest in American history.

The judge said Thursday he reconsidered the earlier sentences and decided “I don’t want to be in the pasture with any regrets.”

Baxter encouraged the three convicted educators to participate in an effort to work with students impacted by the scandal, saying their sentences might be further reduced rather than trying to appeal the guilty verdicts.

“If you are successful…you will have served the community,” he said during the hearing.

Saying it is time to move on, Baxter concluded the hearing with one word.

“Adios,” he said.

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