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News Briefs (Dec. 20 - Dec. 26)

12/20/2013, 11:50 a.m.

Two more educators enter pleas in test-cheating case

ATLANTA (AP) - Two more former teachers have pleaded guilty in connection with the test-cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools. Monday’s guilty pleas mean that four defendants have now acknowledged criminal wrongdoing, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/1gCmuRV ). The judge overseeing the case has set a Jan. 6 deadline for APS defendants to reach negotiated pleas with the prosecution. More are expected to plead guilty this week.

On Monday, former Dobbs Elementary School teacher Shayla Smith and former Benteen Elementary School teacher Sheila Evans both agreed to cooperate and testify for the prosecution in the trial scheduled next spring in exchange for their pleas. Prosecutors dismissed felony charges of racketeering against Smith and Evans, who both pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of obstruction.

Smith and Evans are among more than 30 former administrators and teachers to face criminal charges involving allegations of tampering with standardized test results. The charges stem from a 2011 state investigation, which concluded that cheating occurred at 44 Atlanta schools so educators could avoid losing their jobs and earn bonuses.

Teacher knocked unconscious at Atlanta high school

ATLANTA (AP) - Three students are facing criminal charges after a teacher was knocked unconscious during a classroom disturbance at an Atlanta high school. Atlanta police Officer John Chafee says the teacher was injured Monday at the New Schools at Carver. He said that several students started turning the lights on and off and throwing things, and the teacher was hit in the head. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. There was no immediate information on his condition. Chafee tells WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/1hYCbTE) that the students face charges of reckless conduct. An Atlanta Public Schools official said the incident is a police matter and remains under investigation.

Johns Creek mayor goes to court to halt probe

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) - The mayor of a suburban Atlanta city is going to court in a bid to halt an investigation of him. In June the Johns Creek City Council voted to hire an outside lawyer to investigate Mayor Mike Bodker. City Councilman Randall Johnson said at the time that the action followed several reprimands of the mayor and concerns that he might have violated the city’s charter and ethics ordinance. Bodker calls the investigation a "witch hunt.’’

Judge denies bond for Andrea Sneiderman

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - A judge has denied bond for a woman convicted of lying during the investigation of her husband’s killing outside a suburban Atlanta preschool. Lawyer Brian Steel had asked that Andrea Sneiderman be allowed to be free on bond pending her appeal. Prosecutor Anna Cross objected, arguing that Sneiderman might flee. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams on Monday morning denied bond for Sneiderman.Her husband, Rusty Sneiderman, was gunned down in November 2010 outside a preschool where he had just dropped off their young son in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. Andrea Sneiderman’s boss, Hemy Neuman was convicted in the killing but found to be mentally ill. Prosecutors said Andrea Sneiderman lied to police and to a jury about a romantic relationship between her and Neuman. She denied any such relationship.