Eleven educators were convicted in the public school cheating scandal that rocked Atlanta, but the real fireworks started at the sentencing, when straight-talking, no-nonsense Judge Jerry Baxter decided to speak his mind.
The scandal originally broke way back in 2009, when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an analysis of various schools’ test scores that showed unlikely gains or losses from one year to the next. The irregularities led to an inquiry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and teachers and administrators were accused of manipulating and inflating the test scores of students at struggling schools. Twelve were brought up on racketeering charges and eleven were found guilty.
When it came to sentencing, Judge Baxter had been trending towards leniency, allowing the defendants to avoid the possible 20-year sentence that comes with a racketeering charge through plea deals. But when the educators were less than forthcoming with their admissions of guilt during court proceedings on Tuesday, Judge Baxter pretty much lost it.
“This was not a victimless crime,” he said, exasperated, explaining that thousands of children were cheated out of an education by those in the courtroom. “These stories are incredible,” he added. “These kids can’t read.”
Some of those children, devoid of options, had surely turned to crime. “There are victims that are in the jail,” he said, “that I have sentenced.”
The Daily Beast has edited his searing frustration into a montage. Below are his best moments from the sentencing hearing: