Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Put home-school diploma scam out of business

Failing students trying to recoup high school credits don't need to turn to fly-by-night home school scams for assistance, but authorities can help eliminate the temptation to do so by pursuing all legal remedies against a Zephyrhills outfit accused of issuing bogus diplomas.

CHS Inc. High School (Does the C stand for counterfeit?) is under scrutiny from the Pasco Sheriff's Office after producing a replica high school diploma for a student who later learned she did not qualify as a graduate and was ineligible for admittance to a vocational program. It might come across as a cruel joke except at least two families said they paid more than a combined $1,600 for the home schooling that preceded the diplomas they believed to be authentic. That changes the case from suspected forgery to accusations of fraud and grand theft.

The diploma identifies the principal as Nina G.S. Duffield whose Country Home School Inc. has been inactive since 2006, according to state records. The parents said Duffield accepted their money, required only a few months of work, became unavailable to conference and eventually issued diplomas that include the state seal, a cross, and cribbed signatures from superintendent Kurt Browning and former School Board Chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong.

The actions are indefensible. CHS Inc. preyed on desperate adults trying to nudge under-performing children toward a better education and brighter career opportunities. Instead, the families are left with worthless paper and children academically unqualified for secondary education.

Diploma mills usually conjure up images of emailed advertisements for advanced degrees from unaccredited institutions in exchange for cash, correspondence courses and credits for real-life experience. In those cases, the degree purchaser most often is a willing participant well aware of the lax academic standards behind the post-graduate degrees. Dipping into the high school audience is rare, but not unheard of completely. The New York Times exposed a Miami group called University High School in 2005 as a diploma mill for floundering high schoolers with ambitions to play collegiate football. Locally, a school called Associated Medical Arts Institute in Zephyrhills peddled bogus medical assistant certificates amid the welfare-to-work push in 2001 and snookered two work force groups out of $170,000.

Parents and students don't need to rely on such dubious programs in seeking alternative ways to obtain high school diplomas. New this year, the Pasco School District offers an 18-credit high school diploma to students who don't plan to continue their education in college. (A traditional diploma is 24 credits). Also, students — depending on their age and academic history — can enroll in adult education or online classes, use existing credit-recovery programs, or obtain a high school equivalency diploma known as a GED.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials need to hold the parties behind CHS Inc. High School accountable for the ruse that, in the words of one parent, took money from children and then crushed their dreams. Indeed.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18