Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At least one-fourth of Grady High School's football team was fraudulently enrolled at the school by parents who faked their addresses and forged documents, according to findings of an investigation released Wednesday.
Fourteen students who played on the team don't live in the Midtown Atlanta school's enrollment area, and they are being withdrawn from the school, said Superintendent Erroll Davis.
Those students could potentially lose eligibility to play football, team records could be vacated, or the Atlanta school system could be fined by the Georgia High School Association, Davis said. Civil and criminal charges are being considered, and the school system has sent tuition bills to families of students who should have been attending other schools.
"These children will pay a price for the actions of these adults," Davis said. "I do believe in winning and I do believe in competition, but I also strongly believe in winning with integrity."
The investigatory report also concluded that head coach Ronnie Millen and Jeff Beggs, the Atlanta school system's athletic director, interfered with the investigation.
Davis also said at least one of the fraudulent addresses was provided by an Atlanta Public Schools employee, and another fake address was given by the spouse of a school system employee.
Consequences will be determined when the investigation is completed in about two weeks, Davis said.
During a Wednesday evening community meeting at the school, parents and students said it wasn't fair to investigate the football team based on an anonymous complaint.
They said many other sports teams and schools also use out-of-area students to boost their teams.
"They handled it horribly. The team was singled out," said Lori Peterson, whose son is a sophomore kicker for the team. "I've heard about it throughout the system."
Football players said the investigation will ruin the careers and educational opportunities of talented students, some of whom may not be able to attend college as a result.
"I'm worried about Grady's future," said Martin Fleming, a sophomore running back. "We need to solve this and see who's going to be our next coach. This should be about building the Grady family and moving forward."
Cynthia Black, the parent of junior fullback Cinquai Butts, said the city school district should have never let fraudulent student enrollments get to this point.
"I have no explanation for what the other parents did. I'm a little surprised," she said. "It should have been caught at some level."