N.J. Educators Free to use Diploma Mills
August 19, 2008
I guess you can’t technically call this resume fraud? This is a terrible and negligent practice by educators, but isn’t prevented by the NJ Department of Education. A degree with no academic value gives educators and administrators a nice pay raise. The only chance of this practice coming back to haunt them is a quality background check when they go to find their next job.
Taxpayers foot the bill for tuition
By ALAN GUENTHER • Gannett New Jersey • August 17, 2008
Psst . . . Wanna buy a degree from a diploma mill and stick taxpayers with the bill?
If you’re a public school educator, New Jersey won’t stop you.
State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said she is powerless to prevent local school boards from handing out tax money to administrators who boost their pay by obtaining degrees with little or no academic value.
When it issued a nine-page report last week, the department entered a growing national controversy about the value of online degrees. But instead of announcing tough new standards, the department made only a few suggestions.
“I feel sorry for New Jersey. Here they had an opportunity to step up to the plate, and they opted not to,” said former FBI agent Allen Ezell, who investigated diploma mill fraud for 11 years, then wrote three books on the subject. “I would have thought New Jersey would have had a little more brass than that.”
Freehold Regional High School District became the epicenter of the diploma mill controversy in New Jersey when the superintendent and two top administrators obtained degrees from an online school that has been deemed an “apparent diploma mill” by Alabama officials.
After completing an investigation into the administrators’ degrees, the education department’s report stated there was “no sustainable evidence” that the administrators “possessed the prerequisite intent to deceive when they obtained the degrees” from Breyer State University, which has been chased out of two states and an African country.
The education department report suggested — but did not require — that high school administrators, in the future, earn college degrees from reputable, accredited schools.
None of the three administrators investigated — Superintendent H. James Wasser, Assistant Superintendent Donna Evangelista and recently retired Assistant Superintendent Frank Tanzini — was required to pay back the $10,750 they received in taxpayer money to obtain degrees from Breyer State.
The board gave raises — $2,500 each per year — for their advanced degrees.
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