PHS Newspaper Students Lauded for Article Exposing New Principal’s Background Discrepancies
The Pittsburg school district will make a change in its hiring practices. This after the student newspaper found inconsistencies in the new principal’s resume. She resigned Tuesday night, before officially starting the job. The story that has brought the national spotlight on the young journalists.
On Wednesday, some of the newspaper staff at Pittsburg high talks about stories in the next issue but the last cover story is bringing others national news attention.
Maddie Baden, a junior, reacted to calls from news outlets across the country. She said, “It’s pretty crazy. All of us never expected it to be this big.”
Maddie made the first call to the future principal for a background story. And says she dodged questions. Baden explained, “I searched her on google and I just found some articles that said she violated some KHDA regulations at her school in Dubai. That was a red flag.”
Then the students researched Corllin’s University where Dr. Amy Robertson claimed to have earned her masters and doctorate.
Baden said, “I found all these articles saying it’s a degree mill and accreditation mill and just how it received awful ratings. And people are accusing it of being a false University”
Another staff member of the Booster Redux newspaper, Connor Balthazor said, “We saw some things not adding up. We did a conference call skype with her and got more questions than answers. That was when we were like, we need to write about this. It’s serious “
Junior Gina Mathew said, “We presented our findings to superiors and we were dismissed. And our concerns were not really taken into consideration. That was the point we knew we had to pursue this story and make our voice be heard.”
They’re now getting calls from journalists nationwide and news organizations praising their persistence.
Superintendent Destry Brown credits the students with getting people asking questions. But says district officials followed the usual hiring process. They don’t evaluate transcripts. The state does that to issue a license.
Brown explained, “When she would have applied for licensure, and couldn’t provide the documents, it would have fallen apart then as well.”
The hiring process will change. The board motion will be to approve a hire upon submission of official transcripts.
But Brown says Robertson had the highest ratings from students and faculty.
Their student adviser even stepped aside from the story, recusing herself, as she was on a committee that actually screened the principal applicant.
Emily Smith, the adviser for student publications said she wanted to guarantee the story had integrity. She said, “I had some knowledge of where she attended school and said you need to ask her again. At that point, I started distancing myself. It’s not my job to tell them. They had to find it on their own and they did.”
Superintendent Brown added, “I believe strongly that our kids should not just accept something because an adult told them. And I want them to question….even if sometimes makes me look bad or the district.”
And all say the students have reason to be proud. And they are.
Mathew said, “Because we did effect change through our journalism program. That means a lot to me and my fellow peers.”
We reached out to the job candidate, Dr. Amy Robertson who currently works with an education consulting firm in Dubai but did not hear back.
Students will be appearing on CBS This morning, Good Morning America and even heard on the BBC.