By ALLYSON DICKMAN
WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2008)—Prince George's County is standing behind its superintendent, John Deasy, after a Kentucky newspaper reported Deasy may have improperly received his doctorate from the University of Louisville.
The Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal reported and Capital News Service confirmed through university records that Deasy received his doctorate after attending the University of Louisville's graduate program only from Jan. 12, 2004, to May 8, 2004.
Yet the University of Louisville's graduate school Web site says that to receive a doctorate degree "at least two years of study must be spent at University of Louisville and at least one must be spent in full-time residency."
To be considered a full-time resident, students must be registered for a minimum of 18 credit-hours in a 12-month period. During his five months at the university, Deasy's residence was listed in Santa Monica, Calif., according to university records.
The University of Louisville does not have a specific minimum number of credits for the Ph.D. program.
"However, it is customary to consider the equivalent of three years of full-time graduate study as minimal," the university's graduate Web site says.
Deasy transferred to the University of Louisville program with 83 credits, said John White, spokesman for Prince George's County Public Schools.
However, the University of Louisville Web site states students are only allowed six transfer credits, with requests allowed for up to six additional credits.
Deasy received his doctorate under the advisement of University of Louisville's former dean, Dr. Robert Felner. Felner is under federal investigation for misappropriation of federal grant money to the university, said John Drees, a university spokesman.
According to the Courier-Journal, the investigation concerns more than $500,000 in funds to the school. Felner recently withdrew his candidacy as chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Parkside due to the investigation, said Dave Buchanan, spokesperson for UW-Parkside.
Two years before his doctorate, Deasy, then superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu (Calif.) Unified School District, signed a three-year, $375,000 contract with Felner's research company, the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, according to the Courier-Journal.
Deasy would not comment by phone or e-mail.
Prince George's County Public Schools is standing behind Deasy and does not believe his doctorate was received unethically or that Deasy has anything to do with the investigation of Felner, said White.
"As far as Dr. Deasy is concerned, he was a doctoral student, he completed the requirements for a doctorate program, his dissertation has been published and that is it," White said. "Mr. Felner was his adviser, and it's logical that he would follow his adviser and complete the doctorate."
County Executive Jack B. Johnson's office declined to comment.
The Prince George's County school system has had problems with low test scores, overcrowded classrooms, lack of teachers and lack of funding. The county has also had problems minimizing its large minority achievement gap.
Deasy became superintendent of Prince George's schools May 1, 2006, after being chosen over two other candidates.
"We selected Deasy for his previous superintendent positions and his ability to raise the achievement gap and close gaps between the achievement of minority students," White said.
The Prince George's County Board of Education said Deasy is succeeding in fixing the problems.
"Our school system is in the fifth year of record student achievement," White said. "In fact, our school's latest Maryland Assessment scores have risen in every subject, every class year and every sub-group."
Capital News Service contributed to this report.