Thursday, April 6, 2017

High School Journalism Students Out Fake Principal: Investigative Journalism Rocks

The reporting staff at the Booster Redux, the student newspaper
at Pittsburg High School in Kansas. The reporters did some
investigative reporting on their new principal, which led
to her resignation under a cloud. 
Recently, Pittsburg High School in Kansas got a new principal.

Like any decent news organization reporting on a change of leadership, the kids working on the student newspaper (called the Booster Redux) decided to look into Amy Robinson, the new principal, just to see her background, where she went to school, all that routine stuff.

"She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted to be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials," Trina Paul, a high school senior and editor of the Booster Redux told the Kansas City Star.

The reporters at the Booster Redux didn't find routine information, though. "We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials," Paul said.

The Booster Redux ran a front page story on what they found about Robinson. It wasn't pretty. And soon, Robinson resigned from her new $93,000 per year position at the school.

What the reporters at the Booster Redux did was good old fashioned investigative journalism, something a few of their adult peers in the journalism biz ought to emulate.

Maddie Brown, a junior at the high school and a Booster Redux reporter, said an electronic search of Robertson's background turned up a bunch of articles by Gulf News about an English language school in Dubai that was connected to Robertson.

The Gulf News articles said that Dubai education authorities had suspended the license for Dubai American Scientific School and accused Robertson of not being authorized to serve as principal of the school, the Kansas City Star notes.

The Dubai school received an "unsatisfactory" rating every year from 2008 to 2012 and was shut down in 2013.


"That raised a red flag...If students could uncover all of this, I want to know why the adults couldn't find this," Baden said.

Good question!

Usually, school boards vet the heck out of prospected principals. What happened with this one?  Might be a good follow up story for these young reporters.

Especially given what the Booster Redux reporters uncovered next.

Robertson had said she got her master's and doctorate degrees at a place called Corllins University. By the way, the Kansas City Star checked the Booster Redux reporters' work and came up with the same thing they did.

U.S. Department of Education officials confirmed what the students said. They could find no evidence that Corllins was in operation and couldn't find it in a data base of schools closed since 1986

The Booster Redux reporters DID find several articles referrin to Corllins as a diploma mill, where you can buy a degree, diploma or what have you.

Again, I wonder why the school board didn't catch what the students did.

Robertson, for her part, was kind of defiant, as is often the case when people are caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

"All three of my degrees have been authenticated by the U.S government," she told the Kansas City Star, whatever that means.


"Robertson declined to comment directly on students' questions bout her credentials, saying, 'I have no comment in response to the questions posed by PHS students regarding my credential because their concerns are not based on facts."

Way to go! If you don't like what a reporter is telling us, just yell "Fake News!"

She could have cleared all this up by telling us what really happened if she things the high school  journalists got it wrong.

The way things are going these days in Washington and elsewhere, we need investigative journalists more than ever. And we'll probably need lots of them for the forseeable future.

Which means I'm so glad the reporters at the Booster Redux had this scoop. I hope it inspires them and kids all over the country and the world to keep asking questions, keep demanding answers.

It's what we all deserve.

No comments:

Post a Comment