News

High School Student Journalists Get Principal to Resign After Discovering Her Fake Diplomas

By  | 

(Twitter / @kspastaff)

As the great Whitney Houston once sang, I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Six student journalists at a Kansas high school have been taught very, very well: their investigative reporting lead them to discover that their new principal was lying about her credentials, forcing the woman to resign.

When Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Kansas announced the hiring of new principal Amy Robertson, students Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Connor Balthazor and Patrick Sullivan, writers at the school’s newspaper, The Booster Redux, began looking into her background. “She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials,” said editor Paul to The Kansas City Star. “We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials.”

The students brought their concerns to their school administrators and the district, who set up a conference call with Robertson. During the call, the students noticed several discrepancies and conflicts between what Robertson said and what she’d previously reported. The school she claimed to have her masters and doctorate from was unreachable and unaccredited, and she couldn’t produce a transcript  proving she’d even finished her undergraduate education.

“The extensive amount of research that we had done really didn’t line up with what she said was true on her end,” explained Mathew to NPR.  “We realized those inconsistencies were what needed to be presented within our own newspaper, and to highlight to the community what we had found.” Despite receiving pushback from the community, the students were not intimidated, and published their story last Friday. A few days later, Robertson resigned.

The student journalists have been overwhelmed by the response. Several famous reporters, including Todd Wallack from the Boston Globe’s spotlight team, tweeted about the story.

Of the six students who reported the story, only one is graduating this year. I am so impressed by these kids that I actually feel a bit emotional thinking about how proud their parents must be. I hope these kids go on to great things!