Manassas school officials say they are changing the way they conduct background investigations after the recent discovery that Jennie Dean Elementary School’s principal lied on his resume and falsified his college transcripts.
School officials on Monday said they are also now verifying all of the school system’s current employee records.
Robin Toogood resigned his position as principal of Jennie Dean Elementary School in Manassas June 28 and voluntarily surrendered his Virginia state teaching license July 9, according to documents submitted to the state department of education.
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Toogood had served as Jennie Dean’s principal since 2009.
In June, Toogood applied for an elementary school principal position in Prince William County and school officials there suspected that information on his resume may have been false, according to an official letter of complaint filed with the state department of education.
According to the letter, Prince William school officials conducted a background check on Toogood and attempted to verify information on transcripts he submitted. According to the letter, a transcript Toogood submitted from the University of Maryland Baltimore County “was not accurate (altered) and conflicts with the university’s records.” In addition, a transcript state he has a Masters of Education from Trinity Washington University “is not accurate (altered) and conflicts with the university’s records” and his transcript claiming he held a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Regent University in Virginia Beach “is fictitious and conflict’s with the university’s records.”
The state notified the Manassas school division about the complaint and the city launched an investigation, according to state department of education documents.
On June 28, Toogood submitted a hand-written letter resigning his position as principal of Jennie Dean.
In a letter sent to Toogood, Manassas Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk said that the school division’s investigation uncovered evidence that “clearly shows” that he obtained his teaching license “by fraudulent means.”
“Specifically, you misrepresented the facts and falsified the transcripts that you presented in your employment application with Manassas City Public Schools and your request for licensure submitted to the Virginia Department of Education in 2009,” Magouyrk wrote in the letter.
According to the letter, Manassas officials found that Toogood did not, as he claimed, have a doctorate from Andover Theological Seminary, and that the school “has no record of [his] attendance as a student.” They also found that Toogood “fabricated” his transcript from Trinity University Washington and that he did not earn a Master’s degree from that school as he claimed and only attended school there for one year.
The investigation also found that Toogood received a Master’s degree from NYACK University, but it was in organizational leadership, not education leadership as he claimed. Manassas officials said Toogood altered his major on the transcript he submitted to the Virginia Department of Education to receive the administrative endorsement on his teaching license.
Investigators also found that Toogood did not earn a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and submitted an altered transcript stating that he did. Manassas school officials found that Toogood “attended the university, however, the university could not confirm that a degree was awarded.”
In a letter sent to Magouyrk July 9, Toogood said he would “not contest the charges” in Magouyrk’s letter and would voluntarily return his teaching license and request its cancellation.
According to state department of education records, Toogood’s teaching license was officially cancelled July 21.
In a statement, Manassas school officials said their human resources department “will no longer rely solely on the Virginia Department of Education to validate transcripts for licensing purposes.”
Beginning July 1, the school division began a new policy of using a clearinghouse “to verify the authenticity of the transcripts of all new employees regardless [of] if they are licensed.”
“This action will validate information that has been provided by employees to the department of education for licensing,” Manassas school officials said in their statement.
Manassas school officials are also verifying the transcripts of all their current licensed employees, school officials said.
The school division has a new director of human resources, Billie Kay Wingfield, who began Aug. 1 and “is leading the changes that have been put in place,” school officials said.
Manassas officials said Toogood was hired as principal at Jennie Dean effective July 1, 2009.
Manassas school officials said Toogood “was hired under a previous administration,” but their records show “that an application, resume and transcripts were collected and that references were also contacted by phone.”
Before coming to Manassas, Toogood worked in Washington public schools, Washington public charter schools and at a school in Maryland as a teacher and an administrator, Manassas school officials said.
Toogood received his Virginia state teaching license in 2009 when he submitted his transcripts and District of Columbia license to the state department of education, Manassas school officials said.
In 2012, Arlington County schools appointed Toogood to serve as principal at Drew Model School, but he decided not to accept the position and stayed at Jennie Dean, according to news releases issued at the time.
Toogood is also the pastor at Purity Baptist Church and Urban Center in Washington. The church Facebook page was deleted Monday and Toogood could not be reached by phone for comment.
At Jennie Dean, assistant principal Zella Jones has been appointed to serve as acting principal while school officials search for Toogood’s replacement.
In their statement, Manassas school officials said Jones “has been leading the school and has worked to ensure that students have been assigned to classes and that everything will be in place for teachers and students when they return.”