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At a Kansas high school, student journalism leads to a principal’s resignation

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 5/04/2017
Student journalists Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Connor Balthazor and Patrick Sullivan prepare to interview their newly hired principal on Skype. Their findings led the principal to resign. © Emily Smith/Pittsburg (Kan.) High School Student journalists Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Connor Balthazor and Patrick Sullivan prepare to interview their newly hired principal on Skype. Their findings led the principal to resign.

An incoming Kansas high school principal resigned Tuesday after student reporters raised questions about her credentials.

Amy Robertson, an education consultant in the United Arab Emirates, was hired in March to become the principal of Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas. Six student journalists at the school’s paper, the Booster Redux, started researching her background and experience. They published an article on their findings Friday.

“There were some things that just didn’t quite add up,” Connor Balthazor, 17, told The Washington Post. The main concern was that she had reported receiving her master’s and doctoral degrees from Corllins University, an online school that is not officially recognized, or accredited, by the U.S. Department of Education.

Robertson says she received her degrees before the university lost its accreditation.

Pittsburg Schools Superintendent Destry Brown said the district will probably change its hiring practices.

“Our kids ask questions,” he said, praising the students’ reporting, “and don’t just accept something because somebody told them.”

— Staff reports and wire services

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