Columbia County Facebook probe continues

Friday, July 23, 2010 5:29 PM
Last updated 5:35 PM
  • Follow Latest News

Columbia County authorities said today that they are a step closer to identifying the person who created a suspected fake Facebook page that implied a Lakeside High student lied during a teacher’s dismissal hearing.

The page on the social networking site was created under the name Avery Hill, who testified last month to the Columbia County school board that a teacher helped him and other students cheat on a math test.  The page was created June 9, the day after a hearing in which school board members voted to uphold the termination of Lakeside High special education teacher Margaret Mudrak.

Police recently received records subpoenaed from Facebook in an attempt to track the IP and e-mail addresses used to create the page, Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.

Now, investigators have subpoenaed records from www.hotmail.com, the e-mail service provider used by the person who created the Facebook page, he said.

Morris would not speculate who created the fake page.

After testifying against Mudrak, the page purporting to be from 16-year-old Hill claimed that he lied on the stand to get her fired.

Hill denied any role in the posting, and school system officials said they believed the page had been “spoofed.” Hill’s guardian later filed a police report, noting that Hill had been threatened because of the posting.

 

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110 or

valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

 

Comments (36) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
montega12
0
Points
montega12 07/23/10 - 05:20 pm
0
0
seriously the sheriffs

seriously the sheriffs department has spent months on this are you kiding me

deMOJO
0
Points
deMOJO 07/23/10 - 05:49 pm
0
0
what a waste of resources.

what a waste of resources. who cares...really?

forwhatitsworth
0
Points
forwhatitsworth 07/23/10 - 06:00 pm
0
0
Will we hear if they find it

Will we hear if they find it was really Hill who wrote the comments? Or will the BOE be too embarrassed?

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/23/10 - 06:35 pm
0
0
And if we hear it was not

And if we hear it was not Hill, forwhatitsworth? What then?

corgimom
38451
Points
corgimom 07/23/10 - 06:42 pm
0
0
Then Hill's guardian can

Then Hill's guardian can pursue it, as it should've been all along. How is this the CCBOE's problem?

What a waste of money and time.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/23/10 - 07:04 pm
0
0
Did you read the story,

Did you read the story, corgimom? The BOE isn't involved. The sheriff's office is conducting the investigation because of a criminal complaint from Avery Hill's guardian.

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 07/23/10 - 07:12 pm
0
0
I think its crazy you guys

I think its crazy you guys dont think this is worth investigating. A persons career and reputation is on the line, if the kid did lie they need to know, if the kid didn't do it, a child is being threatened. Both crimes!! There is no doubt in my mind if this happened to you, either situation, you would be beating down the doors of the police to find out whos behind it. Geesh.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 07/23/10 - 08:20 pm
0
0
I gotta probe for your

I gotta probe for your Facebook Columbia County. I got it right here.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/23/10 - 09:03 pm
0
0
From the Georgia Criminal

From the Georgia Criminal Code:
§ 23-2-51. Fraud as actual or constructive

(a) Fraud may be actual or constructive.

(b) Actual fraud consists of any kind of artifice by which another is deceived. Constructive fraud consists of any act of omission or commission, contrary to legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, which is contrary to good conscience and operates to the injury of another.

(c) Actual fraud implies moral guilt; constructive fraud may be consistent with innocence.
-------------------------------------------------------------

If someone registered under Avery Hill's name for the purpose of defaming him, they have broken the law. Given the serious nature of this case and all that surrounds it, somebody's fanny is in a sling.

And in THIS CASE...it ain't Avery Hill.

Little Lamb
49072
Points
Little Lamb 07/23/10 - 10:39 pm
0
0
If you do not harm anyone,

If you do not harm anyone, lying is legal. But under certain circumstances, lying can be a crime.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/23/10 - 10:43 pm
0
0
Glad you're finally seeing

Glad you're finally seeing the light, Austin. Hallelujah.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/23/10 - 11:43 pm
0
0
This revelation doesn't

This revelation doesn't change the hideous errors in judgment the administration made in the case, nor does it excuse them for talking out of their fanny when proclaiming they had "proof" that Hill was set up, when they had no such thing.

But it will provide yet another valuable lesson to some "wisenheimer" kids who thought they could get away with something while hiding behind a mask on the internet.

Hill isn't out of the woods yet either. He has reportedly been making some rather startling and strange statements, that have been recorded, that will further aid Mrs. Mudrak's appeal.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 07/24/10 - 05:28 am
0
0
I'm just wondering where
Unpublished

I'm just wondering where Avery Hills parents are in all this. Why a guardian? Is the guardian a relative or something or a court appointed substitute parent

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/24/10 - 07:13 am
0
0
Austin: Show me, please,

Austin: Show me, please, where the school administration said they had "proof" - the specific word, since you quoted it - that Hill had not created the Facebook page.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/24/10 - 08:02 am
0
0
Facebook page, student's

Facebook page, student's claims fake, officials say

Friday, June 11, 2010
(CCNT - NO REPORTER CREDITED)
A Facebook page purporting to show a student witness admitting that he lied about a teacher who was fired for helping him and others cheat was a fake, Columbia County school officials said Friday.

School Superintendent Charles Nagle said the student, identified only as "A.H." during his testimony in a dismissal hearing this week for Lakeside High School special education teacher Margaret Mudrak, came to the school board office Friday and logged in to his Facebook account under the supervision of school system Director of Technology James Van Meter.

School officials quickly determined that the student, since identified as Avery Hill, had not accessed his own page since June 1 but that another Facebook page had been created Wednesday by someone "spoofing" Hill's actual page.

"There is no way this is the same person," Van Meter said.
--------------------------------------------
Parsing words , are we? I am happy to explain, but I think Van Meter's SPECIFIC declaration is close enough to qualify.

Actually...the word "PROOF" was used by a school board member in the aftermath of the above article running...a term that I corrected on the air at the time.

The article goes on...and while I am not going to blame the reporter for not challenging the lack of real investigation (I am pretty sure he didn't know what was involved) , it is very clear Nagle and Van Meter CALLED specific members of the media to show that they had inspected the pages and computers in question to assuage the fear that Hill had done this.

What Nagle and Van Meter did is akin to a Dr. glancing at a pale patient and announcing he is anemic due to leukemia.

The Dr. may be right, but it ain't smart to make such a public announcement without the testing to back it up.

As you pointed out yourself, Nagle has learned the hard way what happens when you put a special needs student with a highly dubious record of personal conduct and deceit in such a sensitive position. (But hey...they got Mrs. Mudrak's head on a platter, didn't they?)

I swear, that they didn't see that decision as a train wreck waiting to happen just blows my mind. I mean...people make dumb decisions on the spot and off the top of their head all the time (Lord knows I do), but to sit in an office and game plan using the public testimony of such a troubled young man borders on professional malpractice for an educator.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/24/10 - 08:26 am
0
0
Barry...I just saw this

Barry...I just saw this posting from the comments from the earlier article:
-------------
Barry Paschal
Saturday, Jun. 12 9:23 AM

While AH's testimony might have seemed dramatic and crucial to those who sat through the marathon hearing, my understanding is that the most important evidence was the written documents - which the public was not able to see - and information from other teachers, including the teacher who first raised questions about the testing issues. One other thing about the "spoofed" Facebook page: Remember, the person who set it up used images and information from AH's actual page. His real page is still available on Facebook, and the other page is now gone - but not before Van Meter was able to get IP addresses and other information from it.
-------------------------------------
Did Van Meter tell you he got IP addresses from the FB pages? How could he do that?

I mean, it can be done, but it takes legal permission, the cooperation of FB, and about a month, based on the CCSD's experience in this case.

AR

Riverman1
93717
Points
Riverman1 07/24/10 - 08:50 am
0
0
I think Van Meter got the url

I think Van Meter got the url is what was meant.

Spelunkerman
13
Points
Spelunkerman 07/24/10 - 04:41 pm
0
0
"Actually...the word "PROOF"

"Actually...the word "PROOF" was used by a school board member in the aftermath of the above article running...a term that I corrected on the air at the time."

So there were board members present as well they had the kid log in?

Spelunkerman
13
Points
Spelunkerman 07/24/10 - 04:50 pm
0
0
So what if none of the

So what if none of the statements being made are true, either against A.H. or the administration of the school system. I wonder if Defamation Per Se can apply.

Spelunkerman
13
Points
Spelunkerman 07/24/10 - 04:50 pm
0
0
Ooops

Ooops

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/24/10 - 07:06 pm
0
0
RM has it correct, Austin: I

RM has it correct, Austin: I later corrected the post to say they had information from the page, not the IP address. That was MY error, not Van Meter's. But thanks for admitting that you made up the word "proof" and attempted to insert in the administration's mouth. Now, if we're putting words in people's mouths, if Van Meter had the opportunity restate his actual comment - "there is no way this is the same person" - then perhaps he would say this: "We interviewed the guardian and the student, and he logged in to his page while sitting there with me. I am convinced that he did not create the page in question." Would that have made you happier - especially since it's starting to become abundantly clear that he was right, and you were wrong?

Little Lamb
49072
Points
Little Lamb 07/24/10 - 07:41 pm
0
0
Facts are stubborn

Facts are stubborn things.

Ms. Mudrak's termination did not hinge on Avery Hill's testimony. Avery Hill's testimony captivated NewsTimes reporter Donnie Fetter, but Hill's testimony alone did not lead to the decision to terminate Mudrak. We learned from Fetter's Chronicle article of June 8 that, “Mudrak also failed to follow mandated plans for special needs students, called the Individual Education Plan, made inappropriate amendments to those plans and provided too much assistance to a student who had failed another test. . .” .

I have talked to four public school teachers about this story. Three of those teachers work well outside the CSRA and could care less about Columbia County and its residents. Every one of them says that not following protocols for modifying Individual Education Plans (which takes a team of people including the student's parents) is a firing offence.

Austin Rhodes is trying to make the dismissal about special needs student Avery Hill's testimony instead of about special education teacher Margaret Mudrak's failure to follow procedure.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/24/10 - 08:28 pm
0
0
Accurately and succinctly

Accurately and succinctly stated, LL.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/24/10 - 10:03 pm
0
0
I didn't make up the word

I didn't make up the word PROOF...which I should have put in CAPS instead of in QUOTES. Funny how Barry and Van Meter make major HONEST mistakes when discussing this thing but somehow I am making up a word instead of highlighting it correctly.

THAT SAID...the day the little dog and pony show with the Hill kid's computer took place, Mike Sleeper told me in a phone conversation that the administration had looked into it and proved Hill didn't make the entry. Or something to that effect...at which point I asked him...how did they do that so quick (because I know what is involved in such an investigation)? He didn't know...at which time I told him...there was no way Van Meter could know for sure.

There is also NO WAY someone can sign on to Facebook and know from just glancing at the account when the last time it was accessed.

There were outrageous claims being made all over the place...Barry...why are you so quick to believe these BOE folks? Especially when you know there is no way they can make the declarations they make honestly...UNLESS...you just think they are being too enthusiastic with language and you are cutting them slack...

CC BOE administration made a serious enough mistake calling the Hill kid to testify, which Barry told us has been a huge regret of Nagle's, that he would not repeat.

Little Lamb
49072
Points
Little Lamb 07/24/10 - 10:09 pm
0
0
Nice post, Mr. Rhodes. But

Nice post, Mr. Rhodes. But you have yet to address the documentation that shows that Ms. Mudrak altered the Individual Education Plan on her own without the approval of the rest of the team. That alteration is more important in her termination decision than all the Facebook pages in the universe.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/25/10 - 07:46 am
0
0
Correct, LL. And Austin also

Correct, LL. And Austin also fails to point out that the emerging evidence indicates the judgments of the administration were correct, and his were incorrect. Perhaps that explains why his posts are getting longer: His ledge is getting narrower.

ETA: And let me correct you on one more thing, Austin: I wasn't "quick to believe" anything. Like you, I was thoroughly plied with information from pro-Mudrak people. Unlike you, I also sought out information from the people who questioned Avery Hill and his guardian. Perhaps the evidence should now begin to help you see which one of us reached the right conclusion.

Austin Rhodes
2989
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/25/10 - 05:21 pm
0
0
LL, The Facebook page is

LL,

The Facebook page is really a separate issue, and I have been treating it as such since Hill's guardian came forward with his claim.

Barry,

I don't believe you will find that I have attempted to defend or deny any of the claims the CCBOE made against Mudrak in her handling of the paperwork...I did say that in no way did I buy that she was "cheating" particularly in the sense that the Hill kid portrayed.

As I pointed out above, the emerging evidence supports the GUESSES Van Meter and Nagle expressed with such certainty weeks ago. I don't believe I ever offered an opinion on how right or wrong their theories were, but I did state very clearly that they had nothing material from Facebook or Hotmail to back up their claims. They had no evidence, just a hunch.

AS I have often seen in the sticky messes the CCBOE can get in to, they often take sad business, or honest mistakes, and muck them up bigger than they ever needed to be...and many times NEVER do the right thing.

If the Mudrak termination stands, they will have removed one teacher who they believe broke policy.

But nothing is going to undo the damage the ADMINISTRATION did to this special needs student by putting him on the stand in the case. He is clearly unbalanced, untrustworthy, and according to the case put forth by LL and Barry, totally unnecessary in making the case against Mudrak.

THAT is my main problem with this case.

Little Lamb
49072
Points
Little Lamb 07/25/10 - 08:52 am
0
0
I agree that Hill's testimony

I agree that Hill's testimony turned out to be unnecessary, but you know how nervous lawyers can get before a trial. They bring in everything but the kitchen sink in the attempt to win. Now that Nagle won the case before the tribunal, he has the luxury to say that he wouldn't use Hill if he had to do it over; but before the tribunal they were sweating bullets because of the high-powered legal team that Mudrak assembled.

Spelunkerman
13
Points
Spelunkerman 07/25/10 - 08:59 am
0
0
The sad part is that Austin

The sad part is that Austin will never "Man Up" as he likes to put it and admit when he is wrong. Does anyone else remember the day Austin somehow found out about the disturbing facebook page? Austin, you were the judge, jury, and executioner for that young man. Let's see if you will "Man Up" and publically apologize (if it turns out NOT to be A.H.) to Nagle, VanMeter, and especially the young man you were so quick to attack.

750
Points
Barry Paschal 07/25/10 - 09:04 am
0
0
Once more, well and

Once more, well and succinctly put, LL.

Austin: Just as you continually overstated the value of Hill's testimony to the overall case, you also repeatedly overstated the administration's belief in Hill's declaration of innocence regarding the Facebook page. Van Meter and Nagle aren't the idiots you attempted to make them out to be in your dismissive suggestion that they believed Hill based on nothing more than a "hunch." But whatever their belief was based on, with BOTH of you it was based in the early stages on nothing more than opinion; that is, after, the basis for all theories. The facts regarding the authorship of the Facebook page are now emerging to support their theory; where are yours?

Back to Top

Top headlines

Census: Augusta young adults struggling

A new report shows that young adults in the area today are better educated and on average, earn more money than 30 years ago, but are far more likely to be unemployed, unmarried and living with ...
Search Augusta jobs