Brought Out Into The Light
One Student at Pittsburgh High School decided to look into the new principal. But the student journalist started digging deeper than anyone should have.
No one could have expected what dark truth was about to be brought out to the light. And Dr. Amy Robertson couldn’t have expected what they’d all find.
Founded in 1887, Pittsburgh High is the largest high school in southern Kansas. With 65 faculty members and 860 students, the institution boasts former NFL stars Kerry and Shad Meier and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Bill Russell as among their most notable alumni.
But now, the school was about to be thrown into the spotlight for an entirely different reason.
The Booster Redux
The high school’s student newspaper, The Booster Redux, has claimed various regional and state awards and is known for its cutting-edge journalism. But when student journalists uncovered the new principal’s deepest secrets, the scandal placed the publication firmly on the map.
In fact, the outcry grew so loud that the prospective principal was forced to resign.
The “Best Fit”
After a series of interviews with staff members, administrators, and pupils, members of the Pittsburg Community Schools Board of Education were impressed with Dr. Amy Robertson’s credentials. On March 6, 2017, she was formally selected as the school’s new principal. According to Destry Brown, Robertson had “emerged as the best fit” for the school.
But it didn’t take the journalists of the Booster Redux long to realize that there was something very wrong.
More To It
Zach Fletcher, the spokesman for the school district, enthusiastically stated: “Robertson comes to Pittsburg with decades of experience in education.” The press release announcing the decision described Robertson as the CEO of Atticus I.S Consultants, which was “an education consulting firm [at which she] gained management experience at the equivalence of a building administrator and superintendent.”
She was due to begin her new position on July 1, 2017. Little did they know, there was a lot more to Robertson than met the eye.
At first, Destry Brown believed that Robertson had a lot to offer the school. “I felt like she is very knowledgeable about what is going on in education today. And she knows about how a building works and about maintaining a safe environment,” he recalled in an interview with The Kansas City Star.
But he was so very wrong.
Only a month after Robertson was hired though, everything changed. The students working at The Booster Redux quickly realized that there was something off about the new staff member. Maddie Baden, who was 17 at the time, interviewed Robertson in order to “introduce the new principal to the community.”
But something the woman said didn’t sit well with her.
The Investigation Begins
Nobody knew who Robertson was, so staff at The Booster Redux got to work on their investigation, hoping to compile a comprehensive “welcome” editorial. They began to dig a little deeper into the woman’s credentials online. Then, they came across something that immediately made them begin to smell a rat.
Meanwhile, the new principal was hatching a plan of her own. The first thing she planned to do as principal was shut down the school newspaper.
When Baden got wind that The Booster Redux was in jeopardy, she increased her research efforts. Then, the budding journalists uncovered a few articles from 2012 while they were researching their new principal. And as they dug deeper and deeper into Robertson’s past, what they found began to cast the woman in an entirely new light. The articles linked Robertson to the Dubai American Scientific School.
The staff members at The Booster Redux were faced with a tough decision.
The articles that the students dug up from Google claimed that Robertson wasn’t fit or able to act as the Dubai American Scientific School’s principal. Even worse, the school’s license had also been suspended! “That raised a red flag,” Baden later told The Kansas City Star.
“If students could uncover all of this, I want to know why the adults couldn’t,” she added. But they had only just begun to scratch the surface…
More Information Surfaces
Unsurprisingly, the entire workforce at the student paper got to work trying to uncover more about Robertson. They spent three weeks digging into her background, and what they found left them all dumbfounded.
They didn’t know what else she was hiding, but they did know that they couldn’t let her take her position as principal of their school.
After weeks of intensive investigation, the team was able to scrutinize Robertson’s qualifications. She claimed to have obtained a master’s degree from Corlin’s University by studying online and, occasionally, visiting the university’s campus — situated in Stockton, California.
But when the students visited the college’s website, they uncovered a different story.
The students couldn’t find any evidence that the college even existed. And even more incriminating, the Better Business Bureau stated that Corlins was not an accredited business. To boot, the institution had no known physical address.
They also found reports that accused the college of being a complete scam that offers degrees to the highest bidder!
Brushing Them Off
What’s more, the pictures on Corlins’ website were taken at an entirely different university’s graduation ceremony. But Robertson was quick to brush off the allegations from her soon-to-be students, saying they were “not based on facts.”
In an interview with The Kansas City Star, she said: “The current status of Corllins University is not relevant. When I received my MA in 1994 and my Ph.D. in 2010, there was no issue. All of my degrees have been authenticated by the U.S. government.”
On The Front Page
But, the editor of The Booster Redux was determined to expose the truth about the new principal. And she couldn’t ignore the glaring inconsistencies in Robertson’s story.
The publication ran the article on March 31, 2017, and published their findings on the front page of the school’s newspaper. But how would Robertson react when she saw it?
The Real Story
“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 later explained to The Kansas City Star.
“We stumbled on to some things that most might not consider [to be] legitimate credentials.” Then, just a few days later, the board made an announcement.
Robertson had decided to decline the job offer. “In light of the issues that arose, Amy Robertson felt [that] it was in the best interest of the district to resign her position,” Brown said in a statement.
Then, in July, Phil Bressler accepted the position as Robertson’s replacement. But why hadn’t the board vetted Robertson before hiring her?
Who Is At Fault?
Brown believes that he made a mistake and admits that he was at fault. “I do feel it is my responsibility,” he told The Kansas City Star. “As superintendent, I feel like I let the teachers and the students down. I publicly admit that.”
After the incident, the board is considering making a big change with regards to the hiring process.
Student advisor Emily Smith declared the tenacious young journalists heroes. She said that she is “very proud” of what they had achieved with their student paper. She also clarified the students’ intentions.
“[The team was] not out to get anyone to resign or to get anyone fired,” she said. “They worked very hard to uncover the truth.” But what happened to Robertson?
In light of the exposure in The Booster Redux, another intriguing detail came to light. A woman named Paula Schneider claimed that she had attended the University of Tulsa with Robertson.
Schneider also claimed that Robertson had often obtained fraudulent credit cards by using different people’s social security numbers. Schneider saw the piece in The Booster Redux and took to Facebook.
“The Most Evil Woman”
“One of the most evil women I have ever known has been humiliated by a team of high school journalists.” Schneider wrote. The post continued, “I just hope the next time she’s in the news, it’s with the phrase ‘has been charged with…’ following her name.”
Since then, the young journalists appeared on Good Morning America and Inside Edition. Boston Globe reporter Todd Wallack tweeted; the American Press Institute also said that “journalistic investigations can come from anywhere.”
New Way To Hire
Brown has since said that they’ve cleaned up their act when it comes to looking into an individual being hired. He reassures both students and teachers alike that cases like this won’t happen in the future.
“This was a mistake that we won’t ever make again. The hiring process is now much more thorough, with a focus on making sure an individual’s qualifications are real.
What Happened To Robertson?
Following her exposure, Robertson has since disappeared from the educational world. This put many students’ minds at ease since that meant she wouldn’t be teaching anywhere else.
But many students and faculty are still shaken by the incident and wonder where else cases like this could be happening. Schools should be a place where parents can trust that their children are being looked after.
Not Always The Case
Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and some parents are left worrying about their child’s educational growth and safety. One student by the name of Demetra felt the wrath of an unfair schooling system.
She would be kicked out over something as petty as her clothing, and her father wouldn’t take too kindly to that.
The administrator regretted the words that came out of her mouth instantly. Ha! Tony thought. Now he knew the real reason why the school had such a problem with the way his daughter dressed.
And he wasn’t going to take it lightly. The reason for his daughter’s tears wasn’t that the school had a certain image to adhere to or that she was dressed immodestly. It was because she could be a distraction to the boys in her class.
Cover Up, Or Get Out
Then, the administrator said that the only way Demetra would be allowed to attend her classes was if Tony fetched her some leggings to cover herself up with. In the 90-degree heat! Demetra and her father couldn’t believe the unfairness of it all.
Demetra felt like she was being picked on, and her father agreed with her. This school was about to get schooled.
Demetra quickly pointed out that the school dress code was never enforced on the boys in her class. She used wearing hats in class as an example. The school forbade wearing hats in class, yet the boys broke this rule all the time.
Even worse, they were never singled out in front of everyone, and their parents called! Then, her dad decided to weigh in.
Not The Only Offender
Keeping his anger at bay, he pointed out that he’d noticed other students while he was in the parking lot who were definitely not following the rules.
He said that the girls, and his daughter, in particular, were being watched far more than the boys. How could this be fair? Then, he raised another important point.
On a day this hot, how could the girls wear leggings? He argued that the school’s dress code clearly didn’t allow for hot weather. Tony felt that some leniency should be given to students when temperatures are that high.
Wearing shorter, lighter clothing is a simple issue of being comfortable in the heat. The fact that his daughter couldn’t be comfortable due to distracted boys was unacceptable to him. And he wasn’t about to simply let it go.
Tony decided to get Demetra’s friends to voice their opinions on the matter, and they didn’t disappoint. Almost every girl he asked felt like the dress code rules were unfair and that the system was flawed.
These girls were being made to feel uncomfortable in the summer, all because the boys couldn’t control themselves. Tony refused to accept it.
Taking It To The Media
The angry dad took to the media with his daughter’s dilemma, appearing on Today and a few other local news reports. He voiced his concerns, but his biggest was how the school had made her feel that day.
He stated that a girl of her age only wants to be comfortable, nothing more. His daughter had been mortified when she was pulled from class because of what she wore. But would Tony win the fight?
Fighting The System
When asked what the solution to the school’s outdated dress code would be, he proposed that it wasn’t up to the teachers to decide what they did and didn’t feel was appropriate.
He said that the decision should lie solely with the student’s parents. With his opinion gaining traction, Tony decided to go public.
A Bigger Issue
He proposed reasonable amendments to the school’s dress code, stating that “underwear and midriffs could not be visible” and that there should be “no shirts with spaghetti straps.”
But what he didn’t know was that he was just scratching at the surface of a much bigger issue in society. And not everyone agreed with Tony’s stance.
While most people were supportive of Tony, saying that he was uncovering the issue of body image and the objectification of girls.
Others said that if teenagers were allowed to wear what they wanted, the education system would fall into chaos. One dad had caused such a stir that soon, everyone was talking about the hot-button topic.
It wasn’t long before the school decided to respond to Tony’s accusations. They stated that the dress code was in place in order to establish guidelines for “reasonable decorum.” But that didn’t sit well with Tony at all.
Tony, not backing down, was adamant that the school had completely overreacted to his daughter’s clothes. He wouldn’t let them get away with this.
Principal Fraser finally decided to hold a meeting and conceded that some compromises needed to be made. What those changes will be, only time will tell.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.