I-Team: Providence school district reviews credentials of non-union employees

The Providence school district acted quickly to wrap up a review of resume credentials in the wake of an I-Team investigation that revealed a supervisor with a bogus bachelor's degree.

The school district said Tuesday that all 27 non-union, non-certified employees were required to produce their diplomas and that all of them hold valid degrees from accredited schools.

An I-Team investigation found that supervisor Nancy Stevenin used a bachelor's degree from a school that sells diplomas over the phone to get her $94,000-a-year job. She was picked from a pool of 50 applicants.

"This is certainly a very loud wakeup call for us, the city and the school department, to make sure everyone has the proper credentials," Mayor Angel Taveras said Monday night.

Earlier Monday, Taveras said he backed a decision by Superintendent Susan Lusi to keep Stevenin on the job, even after her bogus bachelor's degree was discovered in February.

But then, the I-Team received a statement that Stevenin had resigned. The mayor wouldn't directly answer questions about whether she was forced out.

"She turned in her resignation and we accepted it. I think that was appropriate," Taveras said.

Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier heads the council's education committee, and he is a past Providence school board member.

"The school department did not have a check and balance in its application review process with regard to this issue," Zurier said.

He said beyond the audit, the district may want to add a more in-depth code of ethics for its employees going forward.

"If you look at how other school districts address this, there could be a more extensive code of ethics, which describes certain kinds of standards," Zurier said.

The school district said Stevenin will not receive any severance or pension because she was in the position for only four months.

The I-Team has asked for a list of the 50 other applicants for the job.