'Credentials' Cost Fla. Teachers Their Jobs

A growing scandal over teachers who paid to get credit for courses they never took has cost nearly three dozen educators their jobs, and hundreds of others were being investigated.

The Miami-Dade County School Board voted 5-4 on Wednesday to fire six teachers and accept resignations from 26 others.

The punishments stem from a scam run by former high school teacher William McCoggle, who claimed to offer continuing-education classes through a private company. McCoggle pleaded guilty to fraud in November, admitting he did little more than sell transcripts, requiring no tests, homework or other academic work.

On Wednesday, dozens of students and parents defended the teachers who lost their jobs, saying that removing them in the middle of the school year would be too disruptive.

Board member Evelyn Greer, who voted against the firings, agreed. "It baffles me, just baffles me, to have disruptions at the class level," Greer said.

Florida law requires public school teachers take the equivalent of six education credits every five years to maintain their licenses. The credits can also get teachers raises and let them teach other courses.

McCoggle, who had taught in Miami-Dade County schools since 1983 before retiring last summer, agreed to serve two years in prison in a deal with prosecutors and must pay up to $100,000 in restitution.

Hundreds of teachers who never took classes are being investigated for buying continuing education transcripts.

Last fall, Ohio's Otterbein College, which has about 3,000 students, revoked nearly 10,000 credits given to 657 teachers. It was one of five schools that prosecutors say provided the course credits through McCoggle's company, Move On Toward Education and Training.