Three former top administrators were given maximum 20-year sentences in the Atlanta school cheating case, with seven years to be served in prison, 13 on probation and fines of $25,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Five lower-ranking educators, including principals, teachers and testing coordinators, got least one year in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The defendants were granted first-offender status, meaning their record would be wiped clean after they served their time. The heavy punishments elicited gasps and sobs from spectators in the courtroom. “Everyone starts crying about these educators. There were thousands of children harmed in this thing. This is not a victimless crime,” said Judge Jerry Baxter.
Only two of the 10 convicted educators chose to admit guilt and waive the right to appeal. They did not receive prison time. Baxter voiced frustration that more defendants weren't willing to accept the deal and admit to what they had done. “Yesterday I said to everyone, this is the time to search your soul and we could end this and the punishment wouldn't be so severe. It was just taking responsibility, and no one is taking responsibility that I can see,” Baxter said. “I was going to give everyone one more chance, but no one took it. All I want for many of these people is to just take some responsibility, but they refuse. They refuse.”