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Sunday May 3rd, 2015 10:01PM

Fraud found in Grady football program

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- An investigation has revealed that at least 14 football players at an Atlanta high school used fake addresses to enroll and play on the team, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said Wednesday.

Davis outlined a 23-page report on the investigation during a visit to the school in question, Grady High School. He said parents of children who live outside the school's service area are being charged tuition.

The investigation resulted from an anonymous complaint to the district late last year about coaches allowing players who lived outside the school's service area on the team. According to the report, 13 student athletes are still under investigation. Grady's football team was composed of 58 players.

The report mentions that a Grady High School social worker conducted home visits between Nov. 14 and Dec. 6, when Atlanta Public Schools launched an official investigation. The probe included a review of residency documents, enrollment history, attendance reports, returned mail and tax records, officials said in the report.

One ineligible player who transferred to the school never saw the inside of a classroom, the report said. An assistant coach and his wife - who teaches in the Atlanta Public Schools system - also enrolled their son using a false address so he could play for the team, the report said. Documents that the couple used to enroll their daughter in middle school listed a different home address, and parents of six other students used the assistant coach's address on their district paperwork, investigators said.

Grady's coaches denied knowing that players lived outside the school's service area, but parents said during interviews that one coach told them to "get their affairs in order," as the investigation began. Some parents scrambled to obtain addresses within Grady's zone and district officials said the coaches interfered with the investigation and defied orders from the district to keep details of the initial complaint confidential.

The district requires parents to provide annual residency documents for registration and will review procedures for verifying student athletes, officials said in the report. Several students have withdrawn from the school.

A list of the team's violations and a copy of the report will be given to the Georgia High School Association, officials said. The report recommends civil and criminal penalties for parents who submitted documents containing false information.

News organizations reported that Davis stood in front of a red curtain in the school's auditorium and told parents gathered there that the fraud is another example of adults failing children, and children paying the price.

Last year, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators - including former superintendent Beverly Hall - were indicted for their involvement in a standardized test cheating and racketeering scandal.
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