CRCT Tribunals enter their final day

Photo Credit: Colby Gallagher

The final tribunal hearing began Tuesday morning with the case of Dr. Adrienne Savage, a fifth-grade science teacher at West Town Elementary in 2009.

The tribunal was made up of T. Gamble as hearing officer with Edward Dyson, Charles Strickland and Sam Allen as members.

Charles Cox is serving as Savage's attorney and Flin Coleman will present the case against her as the Dougherty County School System's attorney.

Savage is accused of aiding students during the CRCT test and prompting them to correct answers causing her to be investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Coleman says in West Town during the year in question, the fifth grade teachers allegedly had an agreement to leave and walk through other classrooms when their particular subject was being tested.

Coleman says while Savage walked through the other classrooms during the science section, another teacher reported Savage pointed to students' tests and gave them answers. That same teacher admitted her own involvement before resigning or retiring.

Coleman also believes the principal had some involvement in the cheating but says she also promptly retired or resigned following the investigation.

Charles Cox says Savage is innocent and there is no proof that she caused students to cheat other than the witness testimony of other teachers.

Cox says he believes the evidence will show that Savage is not guilty and asks the tribunal to reject superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree's recommendation of non-renewal of Savage's contract.

Coleman called Ophelia Farrar, the 2009 CRCT proctor of the teacher who is accusing Savage of cheating.

Farrar answered questions regarding the names of people in certain positions and how West Town administered the test.

Farrar says during the testing Savage did enter the room but her responsibility was to watch the students, not Savage so she did not see any misconduct.

Cox then asked Farrar questions of what she may or may not have seen. Farrar says she didn't observe cheating but did not watch the other teachers. Farrar also told Cox that the principal was the one who advised teachers to walk around the classrooms during their section of the test.

Before the tribunal dismissed her, they asked a few quick questions to clarify Farrar's role before moving onto Coleman's second witness.

The second witness was Gloria Mosely, a colleague of Savage's during the year in question who alleges she saw Savage cheating.

Mosely recalled the day of testing to Coleman saying during her section, math, she walked through the other classrooms with no interaction and went back to her room.

Coleman then asked about the time Savage walked through Mosely's room. Mosely says Savage walked into the room and approached the first child by the door before evaluating her answers.

Mosely then says Savage reportedly gave the girl a thumbs up before walking to another student and evaluating her work. According to Mosely, Savage repeatedly pointed to a wrong answer until the girl started erasing.

Mosely says she then told Savage that was not allowed and she stopped and left the room.

Coleman then asked Mosely about the GBI interviews that took place after West Town was flagged for misconduct.

Mosely recalls she told agents that the principal asked her to make an answer key and correct some of her wrong answers. Mosely followed the orders but said she didn't feel comfortable doing it and is ashamed of it.

Coleman then asked her some more questions before turning questioning over to Cox.

Cox questioned Mosely about the day of testing and her interview with GBI agents.

Mosely said when other teachers came around the room during testing, it wasn't a secret and the teachers didn't see it as a wrong thing to do.

Cox asked Mosely if the proctor, Farrar, was circulating the room during the time Savage was in there.

Mosely says Farrar was in the corner at the computer while Savage made her rounds.

Cox then asked why Mosely told GBI agents that she didn't know how many times Savage helped students but today describes in detail it happening twice.

Cox also specifically asked Mosely about the wording of GBI agents who told her those who tell the truth wouldn't be prosecuted.

According to Cox, who read a good portion of the interview, the agents told her telling the truth would be good for her and they would report who cooperated and who didn't.

Cox asked Mosely why when she was first asked, she didn't tell agents about Savage's misconduct. Mosely could not recall, causing Cox to admit a piece of her recorded interview as evidence so he could replay it.

Cox played the piece for tribunal members before allowing them to question Mosely.

Allen wanted Mosely to specify her own wrong doing and why she was give immunity by GBI agents.

Mosely said she knew did wrong and did not want to be prosecuted criminally.

Strickland asked Mosely why she didn't find it odd that teachers were instructed to walk around other rooms after so many years of teaching.

Dyson was concerned with Mosely's judgement because she cheated despite the fact that it was wrong.

Mosely was then dismissed and Coleman called System Test Coordinator Renee Bridges to the stand.

Coleman asked Bridges if it is against the testing manual to leave your room for other classrooms. Bridges says yes this is not allowed because it is a disruption and it should not have been permitted.

Cox then asked Bridges if computers are required to be turned off during testing to which Bridges said after this investigation it became a mandate but it was not prior to 2009.

Bridges was then excused and Coleman turned the hearing over to Cox.

Cox began his line of questioning by calling Savage to the stand.

He questioned her about her conduct during the test; Savage says she did not prompt students or point to any incorrect answers during testing.

Coleman then admitted the testing agreement signed by Savage as evidence and began his questioning.

Coleman asked Savage whether or not she thought walking around other rooms was unethical and a violation of testing procedures.

Savage says she did believe it was a violation but did it because the principal and testing coordinator instructed the teachers to do it.

Savage also says she questioned why they were leaving rooms and says the principal told her "because I said so."

The tribunal asked Savage a few quick questions about why she participated if she felt it was wrong to which Savage said she would be punished if she didn't.

Savage then dismissed Savage as a witness and rested his case to allow for closing arguments.

Coleman began by saying despite the fact that Mosely is a witness with baggage, they can't discredit everything she said. Coleman says the only other person in the room, Farrar, was not paying attention and both Mosely and Farrar acknowledge that.

Coleman says Mosely's credibility is still in tact to prove this more than likely happened and hopes the tribunal will take that into consideration.

Cox says Farrar is the one who has no axe to grind and says she didn't see any misconduct. Cox says if Mosely really reprimanded Savage like she claims, Farrar would have been in a position to see it and would have reported it.

During his argument, Cox says Mosely has every reason to lie because she did not want to go to jail and signed an immunity agreement as a "get out of jail free" card.

Cox argues that Mosely was drowning and grabbed onto the nearest thing, which was Savage's name. He asks the tribunal to clear Savage's name to allow her to go back to work.

The tribunal met for a short time before quickly making the decision to reject the recommendation in favor of allowing Savage to return to work.

The board of education will review this recommendation and vote on it at an upcoming meeting.

Stay connected to as the story develops and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM.