- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

The official in charge of information technology for Prince George's County (Md.) schools should be "removed" if she misrepresented her credentials, school board Chairman James Henderson said yesterday.
"It's normal workplace policy that no one should misrepresent themselves," said Mr. Henderson, District 2. "We will be asking questions. If allegations are true, and are more than an oversight or misunderstanding, we would expect that employee to resign. If not, the next step is to have them removed."
The Washington Times first reported yesterday that the county schools' chief information officer, Alberta L. Paul, misrepresented her academic credentials on her resume.
Ms. Paul called a news conference yesterday afternoon to dispute The Times' report.
Ms. Paul lists on her resume a doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Maryland received in 1980. The line on the resume reads "PHD/ABD," and Ms. Paul said that stands for "all but dissertation," the Times reported.
"My resume clearly says 'ABD,' " Ms. Paul told reporters. "I never said I had a doctorate, but that I have completed my doctoral work. No one addresses me as Dr. Paul."
But two school board members said yesterday they clearly remember Superintendent Iris T. Metts, who recruited Ms. Paul from the Philadelphia public schools, introducing her longtime friend as "Dr. Paul" at meetings last fall.
"I only remember it a few times," one board member said. "Then it never happened again."
An information technology staffer who asked not to be identified said Ms. Paul was addressed as "Dr. Paul" when she arrived last September.
"After a few times, Paul said she didn't like being referred to as 'Doctor.' We thought that was kind of strange, but never figured out why until we heard later that she didn't complete her degree," the staffer said.
Mrs. Metts, who was hired as superintendent three months earlier, lists Ms. Paul as a reference on her own resume. 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.
The Times also reported yesterday that a staffer in the registrar's office of the University of Maryland Baltimore County said there was no record of Ms. Paul doing doctorate-level work at the college she cited.
Ms. Paul yesterday provided a copy of a letter dated March 1982 admitting her to UMBC's doctorate program. The letter lists the doctorate program as "policy sciences" not "instructional technology," as is cited on her resume.
She also gave reporters a booklet listing courses in policy sciences. She left the university in 1984 with 42 graduate credits and no degree, according to the transcripts she provided.
Ms. Paul said her doctoral work covered two areas of study: policy sciences and instructional technology.
Her resume also lists a master's degree in education administration from Antioch College in Ohio. Antioch officials told The Times she was awarded a master's degree in 1974, but in teaching, not administration.
Ms. Paul yesterday said she received a dual degree. But Antioch officials told The Times that Ms. Paul took no classes in management or finance, both necessary for the administration degree. Her curriculum focused on English, history and child development, the registrar's office said.
In addition, her resume states she was director of technology in the information technology department of the Philadelphia school system in 1998-99. A spokesman there, Milton McGriff, said she actually directed "learning support services" or the "department of instructional technology."
Mr. McGriff said that as director of learning support services, Ms. Paul coordinated nine employees responsible for technology used in the schools.
Ms. Paul yesterday told reporters she didn't know what "learning support services" were. She said she altered her title on the resume to better reflect the job she performed.
As for The Times' report that Mr. Henderson asked Mrs. Metts to investigate a racially insensitive remark that Ms. Paul is said to have made to a subordinate at a staff meeting last month, Ms. Paul reiterated that she never made such a remark.
"It is unequivocally not true," she told reporters.
In a July 25 letter to the superintendent, Mr. Henderson asked her to determine whether Ms. Paul, who is black, called the subordinate a "dumb white man."
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 school system's information technology department.
Mrs. Metts hired Ms. Paul in September. 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.
Asked about the three apparent discrepancies on Ms. Paul's resume, Mrs. Metts delivered a written statement last week to The Times that did not directly address the questions but said Ms. Paul is qualified for the position.
Yesterday, the superintendent said the school system is investigating the accuracy of Ms. Paul's resume as well as the report of the racial remark.
"All matters are currently being reviewed and investigated," Mrs. Metts said in a written statement. "It is therefore premature and inappropriate for the superintendent to make any statements at this time."
Prince George's school officials refused to divulge Ms. Paul's salary, although it is public information. A school board member estimated that her annual salary is about $110,000 and said 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.
Before accepting her current job, Ms. Paul worked as a consultant to the federal government, for school systems and in sales for computer companies such as Control Data Corp.
Ms. Paul designed training manuals for the Christina school district in Delaware in 1995, when Mrs. Metts headed the schools there.
Her 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.

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