Manassas principal resigns, loses teaching license after allegedly faking résumé

A Manassas City principal resigned and has lost his teaching license after officials alleged that he falsified most of his educational credentials, presenting himself as having college degrees he did not and slipping through school system vetting procedures.

Longtime educator Robin Anthony Toogood II, the principal of Jennie Dean Elementary School since 2009, resigned his post at the end of June and forfeited his Virginia teaching and administrative license. Toogood, who officials said falsely claimed to have obtained a doctorate in education, has never received an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

Manassas City officials apparently did not detect the irregularities in Toogood’s background since his hiring five years ago. The alleged fabrications were discovered when Toogood applied for a new job as an elementary school principal in neighboring Prince William County. A regular background investigation there — during which officials contacted the colleges from which Toogood said he had degrees — found that he exaggerated claims on his applications for a state license and for his job in Manassas, according to state records.

The case highlights school systems’ lagging efforts to police employee histories amid recent revelations of felons teaching classes in Fairfax and Arlington counties. In Manassas, the case brings additional scrutiny to a school system that hired Kevin Ricks, a serial child molester with a 30-year history of sexual predation, despite his having committed a crime shortly before arriving in the city. Ricks was arrested in 2010 in the hallway of Osbourn High School on charges of taking indecent liberties with a former student and is serving lengthy prison terms.

Prince William officials flagged Toogood’s résumé after a database found discrepancies in his educational history. Alerted by the county, State Superintendent for Public Instruction Steven R. Staples sent a letter to Manassas Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk on June 25. Confronted by Manassas City schools leaders, Toogood resigned three days later, officials said.

“My investigation concluded that Mr. Toogood obtained his license by fraudulent means,” Magouyrk wrote in a letter to Staples. “He does not contest any of the charges against him in this matter and has voluntarily surrendered and requested the cancellation of his license.”

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Toogood declined to comment on the allegations. “I resigned. I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said.

Magouyrk did not respond to requests for comment.

In a letter to Toogood, Magouyrk said that the city schools found he had falsified transcripts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Trinity Washington University in the District and Regent University in Virginia.

Lisa Akchin, a spokeswoman for UMBC, said Tuesday that Toogood was enrolled at the school from fall 1995 to spring 2000 but did not graduate. Trinity Washington University communications official Ann Pauley said that Toogood did not receive a degree from the college, and Regent officials said there was no record of Toogood enrolling or receiving any degree from their school.

Magouyrk found that Toogood had received a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Nyack University in New York but had altered his transcripts to indicate that his degree was in educational leadership.

Manassas City also found that Toogood claimed to have earned a doctorate from Andover Theological Seminary but concluded that he had not.

According to a 2009 news release, Toogood had previously been a teacher in D.C. public schools and held administrative positions at several D.C. public charter schools.

D.C. public schools officials confirmed Tuesday that Toogood worked for DCPS from 2000 to 2005. He then was an administrator at Friendship Collegiate Academy from 2006 to 2007 and principal of the Center City charter school from 2008 to 2009. A spokeswoman for the D.C. Public Charter School Board said that the schools conduct their own background checks with board guidance.

It wasn’t until 2014, when Prince William schools conducted a background check, that the alleged discrepancies turned up, schools spokesman Phil Kavits said. “In this case, it put up a red flag,” Kavits said. “Things were not as they seemed to be.”

Manassas City officials said that Toogood joined their school system before Magouyrk was hired in 2012. A statement from the school system said administrators will be taking action to improve its hiring process.

“As a result of this incident, the MCPS human resource department will no longer rely solely on the Virginia Department of Education to validate transcripts for licensing purposes,” the statement read, noting that as of July 1, the schools began using a database to confirm transcripts’ authenticity. “Additionally, MCPS . . . has begun the process of verifying the transcripts of all licensed employees who have provided transcripts as part of their employment process.”

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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