Dr. Amy Robertson was hired as the head principal of Pittsburg High School in Kansas on March 6. A mere month later, she gave the district her resignation.
The reasoning behind Robertson’s departure from the school? A group of high school journalists working at the school’s paper, the Booster Redux, had investigated the new principal and unearthed evidence to indicate that all of Robertson’s credentials were phony.
It all began when the student journalists did some basic, run-of-the-mill research on Robertson and discovered that her education information didn’t add up. Robertson claimed to have received her masters and doctorate from Corllins University (which, by the way: what a fake-ass name), but when the students attempted to research the university, they found that is website was down. They also found no evidence that the university was an accredited institution.
From there, Robertson’s story completely unraveled. Writes The Washington Post:
In a conference call with the student journalists, Robertson “presented incomplete answers, conflicting dates and inconsistencies in her responses,” the students reported. She said she attended Corllins before it lost accreditation, the Booster Redux reported.
Robertson had apparently been living in Dubai for the last 20 years, working as the chief executive of an education consulting firm allegedly known as Atticus I S Consultants.
When the students began to do more research on Corllins University, they realized that there was significant evidence to indicate that Corllins was a “diploma mill”:
In the Booster Redux article, a team of six students — five juniors and one senior — revealed that Corllins had been portrayed in a number of articles as a diploma mill, a place where people can buy a degree, diploma or certificates. Corllins is not accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, the students reported. The Better Business Bureau’s website says Corllins’s physical address is unknown and the school isn’t a BBB-accredited institution.
Not only did it appear that Robertson’s masters and doctorate were fake, things became especially sticky when Robertson was asked to produce evidence of her undergraduate education:
In an emergency faculty meeting Tuesday, the superintendent said Robertson was unable to produce a transcript confirming her undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa, Smith said.
Not surprisingly, Robertson tendered her resignation to the school board shortly thereafter — although she never formally admitted fault or conceded that the allegations against her were true. According to a statement issued by Pittsburg Community Schools:
In light of the issues that arose, Dr. Robertson felt it was in the best interest of the district to resign her position. The Board has agreed to accept her resignation.
The Board will reopen the position and begin the process anew.
As for the students working at the Booster Redux, they were astounded that the school board didn’t take the measures to initially investigate Robertson themselves. “All of this was completely overlooked,” Booster Redux journalist Connor Balthazor told The Washington Post. “All of the shining reviews did not have these crucial pieces of information … you would expect your authority figures to find this.”
Ultimately, though, Balthazor says he was encouraged by the administration’s trust in the student journalists, and the fact that the school board took the newspaper’s findings to heart. “We’d broken out of our comfort zones so much … To know that the administration saw that and respected that, it was a really great moment for us.”
The incident is an important reminder to high school students and young journalists that their voices matter, and that they can indeed make a difference in their community. All they have to do is ask the right questions.