PITTSBURG — After a quick executive session, the Pittsburg Board of Education unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Dr. Amy Robertson as Pittsburg High School Principal at a special meeting Tuesday night.
Board President Al Mendez said a statement would be “forthcoming” and then took the board back into executive session for personnel matters.
No reason was given for Robertson’s resignation, and as recently as last Friday she was preparing to take the $93,000 a year job.
However after accepting her resignation, the board issued this statement: “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.”
After the meeting Superintendent of Schools Destry Brown said that the vetting process used for Robertson was the same as for every candidate.
“We called references, we called a number of references and checked her background,” he said. “We did it the same way we did all of the other candidates.
“We typically don’t vet transcripts and we don't ask for official transcripts until after we’ve made the decision to hire and we start working through the paperwork. There were no questions about that, until after we made the decision to hire and that’s when the questions arose.”
Brown said the district uses the same procedures as other districts around the state, but that will not continue.
“We’re probably going to make a change in our process,” he said.
Those questions about her qualifications – both in an anonymous letter circulated by the “Pittsburg Citizen X” and by the PHS School newspaper, “The Booster Redux,” — Brown as recently as last week had said were groundless.
However, after the meeting Brown said questions arose.
“I can’t share with you what we found, because of personnel issues,” he said. “Those aren’t public records.”
The chief concerns seemed to revolve around the lack of accreditation of Corllins University, an online school from which Robertson, who is currently working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, received both her master's and doctoral degrees in the mid-1990s.
A Google search reveals several articles and websites warning about scams involving Corllins.
Both Brown and Robertson said she received her degree before the university lost accreditation.
Moreover, in order to work overseas, as Robertson has her entire career, an instructor or administrator’s credentials must be validated by the United States Department of State — which hers were as recently as 2011.
Officials with the Kansas State Department of Education last week told the Morning Sun there were no problems with Robertson’s credentials, and that she would have needed to take few classes to acquire a Kansas administrator’s license, and according to Brown, had been approved to do so through Pittsburg State University — a common practice with out-of-state hires.
However, that was apparently not the case.
“I talked to KSDE this afternoon … there were concerns about things they could not prove or disprove, without all the official transcripts,” Brown said. “There were a lot of questions about that university (Corllins.) We were not able to prove or disprove any of that information and neither was the state of Kansas.”
Brown agreed that the board had taken it on faith that her master's and Phd were solid, but said it didn't’ matter because what was important was whether or not she could obtain a license from the State of Kansas.
He said he could not answer whether or not the board had found she was going to be unable to obtain a license.
“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I wish I could tell you.”
He also gave credit to the Booster staff for their hard work.
“I appreciate that our kids ask questions and don’t just accept something because somebody told them,” Brown said. “And that would have been the easy thing to do. So I will always support our kids.
“The unfortunate thing is that internal in our office we were already working on a lot of that and eventually the chickens would have come to roost.
They made it very public, which probably speeded that process. Things may have happened differently but maybe had the same result in the end. It would have been later, rather than earlier. I feel like they did a great job with the research they did. They shared that with me. We took some of that and followed up.”
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.