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OTTERBEIN College launches degree inquiry



Published: Tue, July 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Otterbein may have given credit through a previously suspect teaching company.

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Otterbein College is investigating whether it improperly awarded college credit to students taking classes through a Florida company whose previous arrangement with a college in Oklahoma led to credits being revoked and that college's president resigning.

The college, located in this Columbus suburb, awarded credit to students enrolled in classes offered by the company, Move on Toward Education and Training, from 1999 through 2002, but the exact nature of the relationship between the two is unclear, said Jennifer Pearce, Otterbein's communications director.

An official inquiry should be complete in about a month, and officials will not know how many of the company's students received credit until then, she said.

Oklahoma fiasco

A similar arrangement at Eastern Oklahoma State College ended with the resignation of the college's president, Bill Campion. The college also revoked credits it issued to nearly 200 of the company's students.

An investigation by the Oklahoma Board of Regents found Eastern Oklahoma gave credit to students who took classes in Florida taught by the company, although the college had no role in overseeing or teaching the classes. Both the college and company got a share of tuition students paid for the classes, which violated board policies because they were not approved by the regents.

"That's what we call a diploma mill," said Gina Wekke, senior coordinator for academic affairs for the Oklahoma regents. "It wasn't a real difficult leap to put the evidence together."

Otterbein gave students credit for company-offered classes including Physical Education in Elementary Schools, English in Secondary Schools and Methods of Teaching Science, Pearce said.

The college was unaware of the company's past problems until The Columbus Dispatch, which reported the arrangement Sunday, started inquiring about it in May, Pearce said.

"Otterbein College will continue its investigation into its relationship with MOTET [as the company is also known] from 1999-2002. We are committed to find out what transpired with the program," Otterbein President C. Brent DeVore said in a statement issued Monday. "I can assure you we would do nothing of the kind to intentionally discredit the college or its constituents."

William McCoggle, a Florida teacher who oversees the company, told The Dispatch the company had severed its ties with Otterbein but would not discuss details about the company.

"I'm under investigation for another situation so I can't talk," McCoggle said, referring questions to his lawyer, who he would not name. A message seeking comment was left Monday at a listing for McCoggle in Miami.

Damage control

In Florida, 14 Miami-Dade County Public School teachers -- at least 12 of whom were teaching driver's education -- were reassigned after Superintendent Rudolph F. Crew realized they had been certified through the company.

The reassignments are "pending the outcome of an ongoing criminal investigation," Crew wrote in a memo to the school board.

"We've been led to believe recently by the state attorney's office here that there are many more teachers involved, and in courses other than driver's education," said Joseph Garcia, a district spokesman. The school district's inspector general also is investigating.

A spokesman for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office said he cannot confirm or deny any ongoing investigations.

Some driver's education teachers have said the company's classes were a quick and easy way to become certified with little or no class work, said Rich Striker, former president of the Florida Association of Driver Traffic Safety Education.




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