Monday, December 18, 2017
Education

No charges in phony Pasco diploma case

ZEPHYRHILLS — A woman accused of issuing a worthless high school diploma with an unauthorized signature of Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning will not face criminal charges.

"None of the victims of this case at this moment want to press charges," Pasco sheriff's detective Bruce Cohen said.

The family whose daughter received the document from Nina Duffield, whose name appeared on it as principal of CHS Inc. High School, was willing to walk away if Duffield would reimburse them the $1,000 paid for private schooling and a diploma, Cohen said.

"Mrs. Duffield has agreed to do that," he said.

Browning separately said he would not pursue any action against the woman who misused his signature and falsified a district document if she agreed not to do it again.

"Apparently she has given (Cohen) assurances that she won't," Browning said, adding that district lawyers would send a cease and desist letter as well. "I am satisfied that the matter is closed."

If he learns of a repeat, he added, "I'm not going to be as nice the next time."

Cohen said Duffield told him she was "out of the business" of private education and would not issue any more diplomas. She previously had operated Country Home School Inc., which officially had not been in business for several years, according to state records.

Once the family receives its repayment from Duffield, he said, he plans to officially close the investigation.

The situation arose in early March, when Browning contacted the Sheriff's Office after received a copy of a student's diploma from CHS Inc. High School that included his signature and purported to be issued by the county School Board. The county has no such high school.

The student discovered that the diploma carried no weight when attempting to enroll in a culinary arts program at the Art Institute of Tampa. Program officials told her she needed to provide proof of graduation from a "legitimate" school.

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