A newly-hired principal of a high school in Kansas resigned on Tuesday (4 April) after student journalists raised questions about her credentials for the job. The students had published a story 31 March questioning the legitimacy of a Corllins University private college, where the principal Amy Robertson got her master's and doctorate degrees years ago.
The Pittsburg Community Schools Board of Education said on its website that they had accepted Robertson's resignation. She was hired by the school on 6 March.
"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," it said in a statement.
The investigation by student newspaper, Booster Redux, started off as a routine interview for a profile of the incoming head. However, it was later found that the Corllins University from where Robertson had obtained her master's degree and doctorate was not accredited by US Department of Education.
The university was allegedly a diploma mill, where individuals could buy degrees of certificates and diplomas.
Robertson had told reporters of the high school paper that she had done most of her courses online, but on occasion had travelled to its campus in Stockton, California. When the students investigated her claim, they did not find any evidence of the existence of such a campus.
However, she told the Kansas City Star, "The current status of Corllins University is not relevant because when I received my MA in 1994 and my PhD in 2010, there was no issue. All three of my degrees have been authenticated by the U.S. government." Robertson was supposed to officially begin work in July.
Trina Paul, editor of the newspaper, told Kansas City Star, "She [Robinson] was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted [to] be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials."
"We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials."
The students noted that during a conference call, Robertson had allegedly "presented incomplete answers, conflicting dates and inconsistencies in her responses".
Maddie Baden, a student reporter said: "That raised a red flag. If students could uncover all of this, I want to know why the adults couldn't find this."
Emily Smith, journalism adviser at the school said that she was very proud of her students. "They were not out to get anyone to resign or to get anyone fired. They worked very hard to uncover the truth."
After Robertson resigned, the student journalists were congratulated for their efforts by many publications and journalists.