Beverly Hall, the former Atlanta public schools superintendent, is a self-serving scam artist who should be jailed for cheating black students out of their rightful education.

The children in Hall’s school district deserve better – especially black children who are struggling to learn.

It’s unconscionable that a powerful public school administrator like Hall would spend years methodically forcing teachers to change test scores so that students appeared smarter and Hall could receive praise and financial rewards for making people believe that her school district had the highest-achieving students in Atlanta.

But according to a federal grand jury, it was all a lie.

“This is nothing but pervasive and rank thuggery,” said Richard Hyde, one of the special investigators appointed in 2010 to investigate Hall.

Today, Atlanta is rocked by the most extensive public school cheating scandal in U.S. history as Hall and 34 Atlanta teachers and principals were indicted for masterminding a criminal enterprise on charges including racketeering, conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors said Hall’s shameless cheating operation lasted five years – from 2005 to 2010.

Hall’s reprehensible behavior has severe consequences: She could face 45 years in prison because a grand jury said she “created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.”

Her crimes against Atlanta’s innocent school children should be punishable by jail time. She robbed children of their dreams and aspirations because many of these students needed critical educational support – not bogus test scores.

So how would these false test scores impact black children who were planning to attend college? How would these lies impact their ability to compete in the workforce? How did Hall’s cheating affect their self-esteem? Thousands of eager students thought they were excelling in school but suddenly realized that they are average students and, in some cases, below average students.

And what about the parents of these students? How did they feel about Hall’s blatant deception? Parents should not have to send their black children to school for educational enrichment only to be duped by the school district’s black educators.

Hall, 66, craved public praise, money and fame and she betrayed thousands of children over years for her own personal gain. Her victims were children – the same public school students that Hall promised to inspire, protect and educate.

“Because there is a single-minded purpose, and that purpose is to cheat to manipulate the grades, what we are alleging is that she was a full participant in that conspiracy,” Paul Howard, Atlanta’s District Attorney, said about Hall.  “Without her, the conspiracy could not have taken place.”

Hall was also charged with theft because prosecutors said some of the bonuses Hall received – about $580,000 — were also tied to falsified scores.

One former Atlanta teacher broke her silence and told prosecutors that Hall ruled the school district by fear and threatened to fire teachers who refused to join Hall’s illegal operation. The teacher said Hall would force educators to erase lower grades on tests and replace them with higher grades. Hall told principals and teachers that falling short was not acceptable. “Their performance was criticized,” the indictment said, “their jobs were threatened, and some were terminated.”

Hall, through her attorney, has denied the charges against her and said she had no involvement in the cheating scandal.

In a video message to schools staff before she retired in the summer of 2011, Hall warned that the state investigation would likely reveal “alarming” behavior.

“It’s become increasingly clear that a segment of our staff chose to violate the trust that was placed in them,” Hall said. “There is simply no excuse for unethical behavior and no room in this district for unethical conduct. I am confident that aggressive, swift action will be taken against anyone who believed so little in our students and in our system of support that they turned to dishonesty as the only option.”

Really? Who was she talking about?

Hall is clearly in denial  and desperately needs to be taught a lesson about integrity, honesty, and how her crimes against Atlanta’s unsuspecting public school children could adversely impact their lives for years to come.

Shame on Hall.

Perhaps sending her to prison will send a clear message to other would-be public school con artists and prevent these crimes of betrayal from ever happening again.

(Photo: AP)

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