- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

The official hired last fall to oversee information technology in Prince George's County schools misrepresented her credentials on her resume, The Washington Times has learned.

The chairman of the school board has called for an investigation into whether the same administrator called a subordinate a "dumb white man" while conducting a recent staff meeting.

Alberta Paul, the school system's chief information officer, lists on her resume a doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Maryland. But Ms. Paul never took doctorate-level courses there and was not awarded any degree, university officials told The Times.

Ms. Paul's resume also says she holds a master's degree in education administration from Antioch College in Ohio. Antioch officials, however, say that although she was awarded a master's degree in 1974, it was in teaching.

In addition, her resume states she was director of technology in the information technology department of the Philadelphia school system from 1998 to 1999. A spokesman there says she worked there during that period but actually directed "learning support" services.

The Times looked into Ms. Paul's academic and professional credentials after several of her 80 subordinates told a reporter that they didn't think she was qualified to head the Prince George's school system's information technology department.

Superintendent Iris T. Metts recruited Ms. Paul in September to become the school system's top information technology officer. The position entails managing the administration's computer systems, such as payroll and human resources, as well as computer software and hardware used in the schools.

Mrs. Metts, whom the school board hired as superintendent three months earlier, listed Ms. Paul on her own resume as a reference. Since the two met two decades ago in Richmond when Mrs. Metts was a principal there, they have worked together on at least two other occasions, their resumes show.

In an interview Tuesday, Ms. Paul said her resume does not contain inaccuracies or misrepresentations. She could not explain why the University of Maryland had no record of her doctoral work. She offered to fax her transcripts to The Times; the newspaper did not receive them.

"I took courses in the Ph.D. program and was awarded a master's in education administration," Ms. Paul said. "I have never misrepresented myself. As to questions about my credentials and my integrity, the community, the industry respects me. I submit my record before the public.

"I fear no inquiry or investigation," she said.

Asked about the three apparent discrepancies on Ms. Paul's resume, Mrs. Metts on Thursday delivered a written statement to The Times that did not directly address them.

"Alberta Paul's educational background in teaching in her previous positions in the technology arena are acceptable and equivalent to the position she holds in Prince George's County public schools," Mrs. Metts' statement said. "Having served as director of learning support services and director of instructional learning in the Philadelphia public school system, her experiences are more diverse and advantageous to a school system."

It is not clear whether Mrs. Metts knew of the inaccuracies on Ms. Paul's resume. Unlike the resume, the superintendent's statement correctly characterized Ms. Paul's actual master's degree and job title in Philadelphia. But the statement did not address the doctorate listed that the University of Maryland says Ms. Paul does not hold.

Prince George's school officials refused to divulge Ms. Paul's salary, which is public information. A school board member told The Times that her annual salary is about $110,000 and that she recently received a $20,000 bonus. Ms. Paul's salary in Philadelphia was $65,739.

In interviews with The Times, four of Ms. Paul's staffers characterized her as enthusiastic and skilled at politics and finding funding but lacking in "people skills" and expertise in information technology. All of the staffers asked not to be identified, citing fear of retribution.

"Her political instincts and ability to scope out extra funding is vital," one staffer said.

"She has a real gutter mouth and a very abrasive style," another said.

"A lot of people outside [information technology] like what she has done for the department, but most of those who work close to her have a hard time," a third said.

"She doesn't understand large mainframe applications. Her experience is in a whole different parking lot," the fourth staffer said. "There is no way someone with her qualifications can get such a high position without knowing anything, unless she is a close friend of someone high up."

Ms. Paul's resume lists a "Ph.D./ ABD" from the University of Maryland in Catonsville in 1980. "ABD" stands for "all but dissertation," Ms. Paul told The Times. University officials said records show Ms. Paul never took doctor-

ate-level classes there.

Records from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County indicate Ms. Paul took master's courses in intercultural communication from 1981 to 1984. The registrar's office said Ms. Paul was not awarded a degree, although she earned enough credits for a master's.

The university's College Park campus is the only one that offers a doctorate in instructional technology, a university spokesman said, and records show Ms. Paul never took classes there.

Her course work at Antioch College where she received a master's degree in teaching, not education administration as her resume shows focused on English, history and child development.

Philadelphia schools spokesman Milton McGriff said that as director of learning support services, Ms. Paul coordinated nine employees responsible for technology used in the schools.

Asked about subordinates who say she isn't qualified for the job, Ms. Paul defended her record and said any manager will have critics.

"My expertise isn't in a theoretical framework, it is in the day-to-day contact with schools, businesses and students," she said. "I don't know everything there is to know about information technology, but I challenge you to find someone who does."

Late last month, school board Chairman James Henderson asked Mrs. Metts to investigate the report that Ms. Paul made a "racially insensitive" remark while conducting a staff meeting.

He was told that Ms. Paul called a subordinate a "dumb white man," Mr. Henderson wrote in a memo to the superintendent dated July 25.

In her statement Thursday responding to inquiries from The Times, Mrs. Metts did not specify whether she was looking into the report of the racial remark.

"Pertinent information regarding the allegation, such as when it occurred, where it occurred and who was involved, has not yet been received," Mrs. Metts said.

Ms. Paul, who is black, said she did not make such a remark.

"At no time since I have been here have I ever executed such a statement," she said. "It would be unbecoming to anyone to make such a statement. I am not that kind of person."

Before accepting her current job, Ms. Paul worked various times as a consultant to the federal government, for school systems and in sales for computer companies such as Control Data Corp.

Her resume shows she worked for Roach Organization Inc.'s PLATO Education Services Division from 1990 to 1992, after Roach bought the division from Control Data, where Ms. Paul had worked for a decade. Mrs. Metts worked as a consultant for Control Data from 1985 to 1986.

Ms. Paul designed training manuals for the Christina school district in Delaware in 1995, when Mrs. Metts headed the schools there.

Ms. Paul's resume shows her first job in education was as a special-education evaluator in Minneapolis in 1975 and that she taught in St. Paul a year later.

Four school board members reached by The Times expressed dismay about the inaccuracies on Ms. Paul's resume identified by the newspaper.

"No school system wants to employ people who misrepresent themselves," District 1 member Angie Como said. "If there has been a misrepresentation, it is something the board and the [state oversight panel] will have to review seriously."

"We cannot tolerate this kind of behavior," said another board member, who did not want to be identified. "If it is true, she should be fired.

"This is a very serious matter and is in the same category as cheating on a test," the board member added. "Is this the kind of example we want to set for our students?"

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