Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Faking The Grade
As the new school year kicks off seven news has learned some retired teachers are being called up to help out in Miami-Dade.That's because other teachers are suspected of "faking the grade" to get their credentials. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero first exposed the scandal and remains "on the case".
WSVN--The spotlight has been on Miami-Dade's drivers education program since seven news first showed you how teachers may have cheated to get their credentials. Now we have learned thirteen of those teachers have been taken off the road because they claimed to have taken courses through Eastern Oklahoma State University.
Miami-Dade Schools Joseph Garcia: "We acted because there seems to be questions as to whether they have adequate training to teach this course which is a course that deals directly with the safety of our students.
Eastern Oklahoma State University President Richard Bernard: " We are unable to honor those credits."
As we reported last year, Eastern's president Richard Bernard believes bogus credits were issued through an arrangement between the university's former president and William McCoggle, a retired PE teacher at Palmetto High in Pinecrest.
Carmel Cafiero:" My understanding is you charged teachers two thousand dollars for a one day course for certification?"
Bill McCoggle: "It's wrong.
Carmel Cafiero: "Can you tell me what you did charge them?"
Bill McCoggle:" Seven hundred seventy five."
Since then, McCoggle has been indicted and now faces felony charges for running sham courses.
But Herb Cousins, the inspector general for Miami-Dade schools, says the investigation is far from over.
Inspector General Herb Cousins: "You must be sure to understand that that's only phase one. Stay tuned."
So far more than one hundred teachers may still be reprimanded for claiming they took other courses through Eastern Oklahoma State and McCoggle.
But all of those teachers are still in the classroom, although they may not be there by the end of the year. Since the state attorney's office did not file charges against them the school district now has to build cases for disciplinary action.
Joseph Garcia:" What we're trying to do is get what we need to act against teachers who cheated."
Herb Cousins however maintains the district has all it needs to take action.
Herb Cousins: "Administrative reviews are conducted throughout this country in school districts based on allegations based on less information than what I provided."
Bennett Packman is a PE teacher who refused to cheat and who blew the whistle on the bogus courses.
Bennett Packman: "And I said no way I'm taking this sham course. He said I hope you're a really good teacher Mr. Packman because I'm going to single you out."
He says he couldn't teach under a principal who ordered him to use bill McCoggle's course for certification as a driver's education instructor.
But his honesty came at a cost. He couldn't continue in his old job and couldn't find a new one.
Bennett Packman:" I went for 60 jobs and I didn't get one of them.
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you think you were black balled?"
Bennett Packman:" I know I was black balled."
Now, even after a grand jury report backed him up, packman says he hasn't been able to get his back pay.
Bennett Packman: "Oh well, they took away one year's salary. I mean that's what I need to survive. They owe me 40 grand."
Carmel Cafiero: "Shouldn't he be given a pat on the back instead of a hard time? "
Joseph Garcia: "Well, the district has worked with Mr. Packman."
Joseph Garcia didn't want to discuss specifics, but says efforts are being made to resolve things. And Packman is pleased that he will be teaching at Carol City high this year.
In the mean time, retired teachers with solid drivers Ed credentials are being brought in to fill the void left by those teachers who were reassigned.
Bennett Packman: "I want no other teacher to go through what I went though."
To avoid problems in the future, the Miami Dade district says it may come up with its own course to teach drivers Ed to its teachers. That's one way to make sure teachers earn and not fake the grade.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE