Second school official in two years resigns amid investigation of resume claims
A Baltimore Sun investigation revealed Thursday night that Kevin Seawright, the deputy chief operating officer for the city school system, was holding a $135,000 position--and two degrees from online universities that are considered "diploma mills." His undergraduate degree was obtained from a online university that no longer exists, and his master's from a university that awards degrees based on "life experience."
On Wednesday afternoon, I began calling sources around the nation and even the United Kingdom to check into an anonymous tip that Seawright's degrees could be questionable. We also asked the school system to verify his credentials and explain how they qualified him to manage one of the largest departments in the system.
According to our City Hall reporter, Seawright is also a public supporter of mayoral candidate Otis Rolley--which has raised questions about whether the tip was politically motivated. Either way, it checked out.
By Thursday afternoon--as I was putting the final touches on our research and story, and awaiting the district's response--I was informed that Seawright had resigned.
It all transpired very quickly. But, it's also familiar territory for the school system.
Just two years ago, fellow education reporter Liz Bowie joined other reporters in exposing the turbulent background of Brian D. Morris, whom Alonso created a $175,000 position for as the Deputy CEO. In addition to a history of serious financial woes, it was also discovered that Morris had not been awarded a degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, which was listed on his official resume. He resigned his short-lived post as well.
The school system said that since then, they have put protocols in place to check the credentials of all city school employees.
They could not say whether the human resources department, now called "human capital," had checked Seawright's credentials when he was hired in 2006 as a special assistant to the COO. He was promoted to deputy COO in 2008, received a nearly $40,000 raise with the promotion, and his credentials were not reviewed.
The school system couldn't say whether Seawright's education background was ever verified because there's been so much turnover in the HR Department since then. (Note: the Chief Human Capital Officer position was recently vacated).If the district can't account for HR practices from five years ago, it leads one to wonder if this lack of oversight/verification is prevalent?