Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

April 9, 2015 — A malicious prosecution

Last week, a group of 11 school teachers and administrators from the Atlanta Public Schools (or APS) were sentenced to sentences ranging from 15 to 25 years for allegedly changing grades on high-stakes exams, ones which not only would allow students to graduate, but would result in a bump in school funding if enough students passed the tests.

If you thought that the lengths of these sentences were a bit harsh, you aren’t alone. The teachers were tried and convicted under Georgia’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a set of laws meant to prosecute ongoing criminal enterprises such as organized crime — loansharking, human trafficking, protection rackets, drug distribution.

The RICO statues not only are difficult for defendants to argue their way out of, they also call for triple the amount of time as a crime outside the statute. Plus, as the crimes are seen as “top level” in terms of sentencing, early parole is extremely unlikely.

There is already anger in the African-American community in Fulton County, Ga. The plight of the so-called APS 11 has also gotten the attention of The Rev. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.

Let’s face it; they have a point. Why are the prosecutors in this litigation charging schoolteachers with the same laws reserved for the worst in our society?

It makes you wonder what the Fulton County prosecutors are thinking.


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