Something remarkable happened in Pittsburg, Kansas. After having her credentials scrutinized by some local journalists, the Pittsburg Community Schools Board of Education announced that Amy Robertson would be resigning from her newly appointed position as principal of Pittsburg High School.

This is remarkable to me for two reasons.

The first is that the journalists who did the leg work to uncover the truth of the legitimacy of Robertson’s credentials were — get this — high school students working for the school’s newspaper, the Booster Redux.

According to this article in The Kansas City Star, Robertson presented false credentials:

Students [sic] journalists published a story Friday questioning the legitimacy of the private college — Corllins University — where Robertson got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago. U.S. Department of Education officials, contacted by The Star, confirmed student reports; the federal agency could not find evidence of Corllins in operation. The school wasn’t included among the agency’s list of schools closed since 1986.

Further investigation found the searches on the school’s website linking to nothing. And the reputation of the institution for in essence having degrees for sale was documented in several online articles. Attempts to reach the school by email from The Star were not responded to.

A hearty congratulations for some good journalism by the aspiring young journalists goes almost without saying. And kudos to the Board of Education officials for taking action may be warranted as well. Except for the fact that the school didn’t do the background check itself, which might have resulted in the avoidance of this altogether, they came around to do the right thing … once they were exposed for not having done so in the first place, that is.

That is why what these students did was so remarkable, and it brings me to my second reason for saying so, because in Washington County, it simply does not work this way.

When missteps by people of prominence who are entrusted power or authority are exposed here, there is virtually no accountability. Rather, there is a proverbial circling of the wagons whereby no measure of dishonesty is unacceptable and no person in a position to reveal the missteps is safe from retaliation.

Note the sheer hypocrisy of a community so outspoken about government abuse and overreach at the federal level that when presented with clear and irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing by its local officials takes no action. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Crickets.

But taking into account the example of the warranted scrutinizing of credentials presented buy a leader of a high school and perhaps the credibility of a board that made the decision to hire, has it occurred to anyone to perhaps do the same with regards to the leadership in our own educational institutions?

Because while it is perhaps not geographically relevant, what happened at that high school is not an isolated incident, which is to say that it happens here as well. Nepotism is rampant in the hiring and appointing of administrators and staff in the local educational system, but it is hardly the glaring issue at hand.

And the perhaps underqualification of some of the people who are given these positions ranks a distant second or third as well in terms of what is problematic.

What is most disconcerting here locally is the almost jaw-dropping frequency with which these people abuse their positions to carry out personal agendas ranging from character assassination to misuse of funds. And they do it so shamelessly and flagrantly that one is compelled to wonder where such brazen confidence comes.

Perhaps merely exposing such behavior in a local publication is not enough?

More to come. I swear it.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.