I-Team: Union responds to hiring of supervisor with questionable credentials

Nancy Stevenin

A union official in the Providence School District responded Friday to an NBC 10 I-Team investigation that revealed a school supervisor got a job with a degree that may not be worth the paper it's printed on.

"Our teachers are extremely disconcerted. They are very angry," said Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers Union.

Calabro spoke to NBC 10 after an I-Team investigation revealed a school district employee with questionable credentials.

Nancy Stevenin helps developmentally disabled students succeed in the real world. And her position carries a big salary, more than $94,000 a year plus benefits.

The job posting said "bachelor's degree mandatory." But the I-Team learned Stevenin apparently cut corners to get the job.

Stevenin holds a bachelor's degree from Ashley University, an online school that sold the I-Team a Ph.D. over the phone for about $600 and even offered to backdate it.

"I think we're all human beings, and people make lapses in judgment, some worse than others. I think with each of those cases you have to look at the whole picture and you make a judgment about what the best course of action is. And so that's what I did in this instance," Superintendent Susan Lusi said.

Even though Stevenin apparently misrepresented herself, Lusi said she'll stay on the job and be allowed to earn a degree from an accredited university while keeping her title and salary.

Davis: "If you're a classroom teacher making $30,000 or $40,000 a year with a bachelor's degree, and you see an administrator making $94,000 a year without, that could be frustrating."

Lusi: "You know, I don't really agree with that. I mean, I guess people may get frustrated that Bill Gates doesn't have a degree. But he's judged on the merits of his work."

Calabro argued teachers are being held to a different standard.

"It sends a clear message that people are being treated differently, and that's a shame," Calabro said.

Calabro said she thinks a teacher would be fired under the same circumstances.

Reaction to the I-Team investigation revealed that viewers are angry and shocked.

"If anyone else lied on their resume they would be terminated without hesitation," Diane wrote on the station's Facebook page.

"The message being sent to students is that it is okay to lie! This is a disgrace," Jo Ann posted.

"Fire her now, and give someone the position that actually earned it," Elaine said.

A spokesman said Stevenin will have to pay for her degree and take vacation time if she needs to attend classes.