Changing Faces of Justice
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter called the Atlanta cheating scandal “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town.” All but one of 10 former Atlanta public school educators convicted in a widespread conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests were sentenced to jail time on April 14. The initial sentences, which ranged from 5- to 20-year terms, were widely criticized for being too harsh. On April 30, Judge Jerry Baxter held a re-sentencing, in which he significantly reduced the sentences for Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts, and Tamara Cotman. Saying he wanted his ruling to be considered “fair,” Judge Baxter re-sentenced each of the three defendants to three years in prison and seven years probation. They were also fined and sentenced to community service.