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Atlanta educators begin surrendering in school cheating scandal

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School supplies.
School supplies.

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Former educators indicted in a cheating scandal that has rocked Atlanta's public school system began turning themselves in to authorities on Tuesday, ahead of a deadline to surrender voluntarily.

At least three of the 35 former Atlanta public school educators indicted by a grand jury last week had reported to the Fulton County jail by mid-morning, according to jail records.

They face charges including racketeering and making false statements for allegedly conspiring to alter and improve standardized test scores to obtain cash bonuses, according to prosecutors.

Former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall was among the former teachers, principals and administrators named in the 65-count indictment returned on Friday. She was not among the first defendants who turned themselves in.

All of the defendants have been given a Tuesday deadline by the Fulton County district attorney's office to surrender or face arrest in their homes or workplaces.

Hall was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009, the same year prosecutors contend widespread cheating took place.

She received a $78,000 bonus that year from the school system for improving its test scores, prosecutors said.

"The money she received, we are alleging, was ill gotten and it was theft," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said at a news conference on Friday.

(Editing by Tom Brown and Philip Barbara)

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