DCSS, Feds disagree over value of chief's degree - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

DCSS, Feds disagree over value of chief's degree

August 9, 2005

Albany-- The Dougherty County School Board is getting a lot of attention after a big decision Monday night that effects the safety of your school-aged children.

"I feel it was very open and very fair," says Deputy Superintendent Carlos Keith. Keith stands by the board's decision to hire Dougherty County police Captain Troy Conley. He says out of five finalists, he was the best candidate for the school police chief position. "Nobody was handpicked. They had certain criteria they had to meet," says Keith.

One of the criteria was a degree, but we questioned whether Conley's degree is legitimate. "No it was not a bogus degree. This is from an accredited university," says Keith. That university is Columbus University, an online school that offers four-year degrees in as little as twelve months. The state of Louisiana shut it down because it didn't try to meet any academic standards, so the school moved across the state line to Mississippi. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls it a diploma mill where you simply buy a degree instead of earning it. So did Conley earn his new job with the degree? Board members say yes.

"One of the minimum qualifications was for a degree. It was not a four year degree or a six year degree. It was a bachelor's degree," says School board chair Willie Weaver.

We also asked about accreditation. Columbus University is accredited by the World Association of Universities and Colleges who the U-S Department of Education says only accredits sketchy online degree programs. Keith and Weaver say the school board were fully aware of this early on.

"Mr. Keith made me aware of it. They did research and went online like apparently other folks have done and based upon what they were asking for in the process, that was acceptable to them," says Weaver. They say they're also confident the whole hiring procedure was honest.

"I know it was an open and fair process because I was part of it throughout," says Weaver. And that they weren't misleading the public when they said there were no finalists last week. "It was not lying because at that time we didn't have any finalists. It was no lying," says Keith.

Willie Weaver says that after the interviewing process done by five Chiefs, Conley was the only candidate that all five selected.

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