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Last teacher facing sentencing in Atlanta cheating scandal gets year in prison

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ATLANTA — The final teacher awaiting sentencing in the Atlanta schools test cheating case was ordered by the trial judge Tuesday to serve a year in prison and four months on probation.

Former elementary school teacher Shani Robinson was among 11 educators convicted in April by a Fulton County Superior Court jury in a conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests in the Atlanta public school system.

Robinson was found guilty of racketeering and other charges for changing students' answers on standardized tests given in 2009. Her sentencing had been delayed because she gave birth just days after she was convicted.

Judge Jerry Baxter had offered Robinson the same deal as her 10 co-defendants — she could have avoided a prison sentenced by admitting her guilt in court.

Robinson's defense attorney, Annette Green, told the judge the ex-teacher was willing to accept the jury's verdict and her punishment but she still insists she did nothing wrong. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://on-ajc.com/1JA764L) Robinson's mother pleaded with the judge to show mercy anyway, noting Robinson has a 4-month-old son.

"She rejected her avenue out of this mess," Baxter said.

In addition to sentencing Robinson to a year in prison and four years on probation, the judge ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine and serve 1,000 hours of community service.

The judge did allow Robinson to remain free while she appeals her conviction. He estimated it will likely be three years before she has to report to prison.

Only two of the 11 convicted educators accepted the judge's offer to avoid prison by admitting their guilt during sentencing. They all received probation.

Like Robinson, the other eight defendants refused the offer and were sentenced to one to three years in prison.


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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