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Facebook page, student's claims fake, officials say

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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.

Mudrak was terminated after another teacher reported problems with tests taken by her students.

School officials said they found evidence she had provided test answers for students and made inappropriate changes to some of her students' education plans.

Columbia County school board members voted unanimously to uphold her termination Tuesday after a daylong hearing that included Hill's testimony that she had provided him with an unethical level of test assistance.

The fake Facebook page was created after the board's decision and has since been removed, but not before Van Meter printed screen images from the site.

On the fake page, the Hill impersonator offered a profanity-laced tirade in response to an Augusta Chronicle story about Mudrak's dismissal being upheld, adding "I even lied to proceed the process of her termination!"

Other Facebook users, many of them also Lakeside High School students, then responded on the page with comments that included threats of bodily harm toward Hill.

"This boy has been set up," Nagle said, adding that he plans to review the information with the school board's attorney Monday to determine whether further action needs to be taken, which could include attempting to track down the fake page's creator.

"What this boy went through yesterday is just terrible," he said.

Van Meter said the system deals with fake social networking pages "a couple of times a year, but usually not to this degree."

Past issues have included a fake page that supposedly showed a teacher participating in a wet T-shirt contest and others created to "cyber-bully" students.

"They can be anybody they want to be on Facebook," Van Meter said.

"They can pretend to be another student."

Protect yourself

Some ways to keep your identity safe on Facebook:

- Only accept friend requests from people you know.

- Don't put your full birthday.

l Be "friends" with your child on Facebook, set up rules for "friending," restrict privacy settings and do the occasional search to see what comes up with his or her name.

- Report any suspicious activity on your account.

- Change your password frequently.

-- Sarah Day Owen, staff writer

How it could happen

Unfortunately, it's fairly easy to impersonate someone on Facebook. All that is required is an e-mail address and some basic knowledge about the person.

Facebook does not use any sort of identity verification. Because more than one person can have the same name, duplicates can be made, though that's against Facebook's Terms of Service.

There is also no verification to join a network.

Facebook is largely a self-policed network, but there is a way to report fake or imposter profiles. Report a fake or imposter profile: tiny.cc/rbbf7

Comments (79) Add comment
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redapples
669
Points
redapples 06/11/10 - 01:55 pm
0
0
I hope the county does pursue

I hope the county does pursue this in regard to action against the individual that created this fake page. Let's see how brave this individual is when they are no longer "anonymous."

ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA
24
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ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA 06/11/10 - 01:57 pm
0
0
I feel for the teacher. You

I feel for the teacher. You can pour a whole life into helping kids and this can result.

Rob Nordan

KNECKBONE
26
Points
KNECKBONE 06/11/10 - 02:34 pm
0
0
facebook-myspace-stickam-all

facebook-myspace-stickam-all bad .keep youre kids off of them.

AEinstein
5
Points
AEinstein 06/11/10 - 03:51 pm
0
0
Are you kidding me? CCBOE

Are you kidding me? CCBOE obviously doesn't have a clue about how FB works. I went to this FB page yesterday with a friend who also has a FB page. This friend has a Facebook friend who is a Facebook friend of this kid and that is how we accessed his page - through another Facebook friend. This other FB friend did not become a FB friend of this kid just yesterday! This kid must have multiple FB pages as some people do. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out - I will make a bet that this is his Facebook page.

729
Points
Barry Paschal 06/11/10 - 04:00 pm
0
0
AEinstein: You should provide

AEinstein: You should provide your information to the school system's technology director, James Van Meter. This isn't exactly his first ride in the rodeo, but perhaps you know something he doesn't.

puppydog
228
Points
puppydog 06/11/10 - 04:38 pm
0
0
This doesn't even make sense.

This doesn't even make sense. The boy merely deleted all the entries since June 1. The entries in question were on his page until he removed them yesterday after he heard they had been discovered by people on the radio, etc. He can't say someone else put them on there. They were on his Facebook page with all his prior entries, with all his friends listed, etc. Give us a break. We're not that stupid (unless of course you're the Columbia County school board IT man & are too uninformed and ignorant to believe the BS this *#*#* kid is trying to feed you).

bellanlilli
0
Points
bellanlilli 06/11/10 - 05:10 pm
0
0
puppydog -- you are

puppydog -- you are absolutely 100% on the money!!! What a bunch of bull. You have GOT TO BE kidding me that I would believe this kid was setup. WAKE UP! The CCBOE rested their entire case on a kid that has a history of mental illness (ask anyone), just look at the photo he uses on FB (P-LEASE, he is a nut-job and not too bright). He put his thoughts on FB (and thought only his "friends" would see them) and then when he heard the radio or maybe the CCBOE called him... he deleted the entries and they dreamed-up an excuse. This board needs to be voted out. Who is next on the chopping block, this should be made into a movie!!!

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 06/11/10 - 06:18 pm
0
0
Maybe they'll get this

Maybe they'll get this situation straightened out it's about to drive that guy that comes on WGAC from 3 to 6 in the afternoon crazy.

ColCo
819
Points
ColCo 06/11/10 - 06:15 pm
0
0
The CCBOE determined that

The CCBOE determined that Margaret was guilty until proven innocent, so I think they would say just about anything to perpetuate their claim. A subpoena to Facebook will provide the answers everyone is seeking. Hopefully this action will lead to Margaret's reinstatement.

showboat
346
Points
showboat 06/11/10 - 06:31 pm
0
0
This IT guy need to go back
Unpublished

This IT guy need to go back to school and learn his job. Only told Nagle what he wanted to hear, becauseCCBOE s---up.

Mr. Thackeray
953
Points
Mr. Thackeray 06/11/10 - 06:57 pm
0
0
CCBOE is a joke, they are

CCBOE is a joke, they are only interested in saving Admin jobs and covering their butts. It is all about property values as the county pulls the CCBOE chain!

TheCount
0
Points
TheCount 06/11/10 - 08:03 pm
0
0
So let me make sure I

So let me make sure I understand this:

A malicious but brilliant mastermind created a fake Facebook page impersonating this witness weeks or even months in advance, along the way gathering over 70 friends and acquaintances of said witness, only so that later this mastermind could set into motion their master plan of getting Margaret Mudrak fired by framing her and using this witness as the fall guy by later writing on the previously established fake Facebook profile that he was lying.

This person will clearly never be caught. No one that good is ever going to be found by any authority.

Dixieman
15965
Points
Dixieman 06/11/10 - 08:37 pm
0
0
Some demented kid thinks he

Some demented kid thinks he is 007 and is muddying the waters.

bellanlilli
0
Points
bellanlilli 06/11/10 - 09:13 pm
0
0
Absolutely --- subpoena FB.

Absolutely --- subpoena FB. I do not think we are talking about some 007 dark knight. The witness wrote on FB himself and did not think it was viewable by the public. This kid is NOT 'james bond'. He or the school deleted the entry. Tell me, why did they delete the entry if they were so sure he did not write it? Were they worried? I would like to know what kind of people (i.e. CCBOE) would destroy an entire family over NOTHING?? Who are these people anyway --- the board members I mean? I know they mentioned Charles Nagle but there were 3 other people on the board.

Riverman1
86854
Points
Riverman1 06/11/10 - 09:35 pm
0
0
TheCount...haha. I'd love to

TheCount...haha. I'd love to question Mr. Meter. Or better still, I'd love to have Dixieman question him.

As usual with these type things, the cover-up is what does them in. So Mr. Metter on his own thought that's the way to investigate the Facebook entries?

I'd like to go into why he decided his method of using the last date was the way to do it? Who talked to him and instructed him to look at the matter and was he given any "advice?"

Personally, if I worked for the school system I'd think twice before I went against the Superintendent and the BOE acting as one.

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 06/11/10 - 09:35 pm
0
0
Sounds like MAJOR corruption

Sounds like MAJOR corruption and stupidity in CCBOE, just like Richmond County. This lady needs to sue the snot out of the school system, and voters need to get rid of the board, and report the superintendent and board to the Professional Standards Commission. These people are not capable of running a school system.

bmtopalis
0
Points
bmtopalis 06/11/10 - 09:50 pm
0
0
A thorough INVESTIGATION of

A thorough INVESTIGATION of the school board should be done! Mrs. Mudrak should have friends, family and the parents and students of the community sign a PETITION that they want a thorough investigation as to what really goes on at Lakeside High. The teachers of Lakeside should really want to know the truth for themselves as well because it can be any one of them the next time around!!! It seems to be an all too familiar pattern at Lakeside High. This is the third Special Ed teacher to get fired or to be forced out. Also, Mrs. Mudrak's attorney should SUBPOENA Facebook. This way the truth will surface. Petition and Fight for Mrs. Mudrak's rights. Everyone in the community should come together and stand up against this school board. PICKET the school every day until the truth is uncovered. DEMAND an INVESTIGATION. Margaret Mudrak is innocent. She has devoted her life to teaching children. 30 years of dedication and this is how it ends? I don't think so. Stand up and fight not only for Mrs. Mudrak, but for the future of the community and for the students of Lakeside High. In this day and age you would think that this kind of "railroading" would not go on anymore, but it's obvious that Lakeside High has their own definition of the law. When the truth finally does surface, and Mrs. Mudrak's name is cleared, I hope she sues the crap out of the school board for the pain and anguish that her and her family members had to go through during this devastating time.

Riverman1
86854
Points
Riverman1 06/12/10 - 06:02 am
0
0
It appears the CCBOE is

It appears the CCBOE is attempting to answer the question of the validity of the testimony of this questionable, but crucial witness.

But is this their answer?

If so it appears, many more questions have surfaced. The CCBOE is taking away this lady's retirement, after many years of teaching with superior evaluations.

It's obvious, the BOE too believe, the testimony of A.H. was instrumental in their decision and want to know if those are his comments on FaceBook as evidenced by getting their IT person involved to inform them.

This has turned into the key factor along with the methods Mr. Van Meter used and why he used them?

To explain, his conclusions were obviously illogical to most of us.

I've been supportive of the BOE members and believe they are trying to do the right thing and have more info than we have, including being able to evaluate the personalities of the people involved.

However, the two factors that apparently were instrumental in their decision to fire the teacher are questionable. The notes the kid brought into the classroom are nothing out of the ordinary and now the star witness is highly suspect.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 06/11/10 - 10:17 pm
0
0
Riverman you are exactly

Riverman you are exactly correct. As to the notes the kid had. I remember a math teacher in college that sent me notes on incorrect homework answers all the time. She was a great teacher (and tough as nails) and I believe I still have some of the notes in an old math book. As to the star witness, people seem to not believe that some kids really hold a grudge and will on occasion lie. I believe she will sue and rightfully so because her career is really over as a result of this witch hunt.

Riverman1
86854
Points
Riverman1 06/11/10 - 10:38 pm
0
0
Yep, it's obvious a law suit

Yep, it's obvious a law suit is coming if this decision stays. It's going to end up one of those millions of dollars deals Columbia County seems to get into without any reason except some people don't like this or that. How much money do we have left?

ColCo
819
Points
ColCo 06/12/10 - 06:51 am
0
0
Riverman, can the PSC be

Riverman, can the PSC be asked to investigate Nagle, Carney and the other cast of characters involved in this melodrama or do they only deal with issues concerning teachers?

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 06/12/10 - 08:09 am
0
0
Looks like the Board's

Looks like the Board's attempt to win the court of public opinion on this one has failed miserably. Why report this to the paper unless you are trying to back your story and cover yourself? If they really wanted to prove something, they should have asked to view the student's actual computer and brought a computer forensics expert rather then the CCBOE IT person who clearly or conveniently isn't very technology knowledgable.

georgiapeach
0
Points
georgiapeach 06/12/10 - 08:34 am
0
0
Who decided that the facebook

Who decided that the facebook page is "fake"? Have they contaced Facebook in any way?

forwhatitsworth
0
Points
forwhatitsworth 06/12/10 - 09:16 am
0
0
How far is the BOE willing to

How far is the BOE willing to go to get rid of this teacher? Seems as if they are willing to go to all lengths over minor allegations, a classroom test,messy files, ensuring a student was able to have their extra time on a test, and the court of public opinion is not on their side. That does not bode well if Mrs. Mudrak sues and there is a jury trial.

729
Points
Barry Paschal 06/12/10 - 09:23 am
0
0
While AH's testimony might

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.

forwhatitsworth
0
Points
forwhatitsworth 06/12/10 - 11:10 am
0
0
As one who did sit through

As one who did sit through the Marathon hearing-all the tests were explained as to the questions and the way they were answered- the other documents that may have totally cleared Mrs. Mudrak-the other regular ed students-FROM THE SAME CLASS- were destroyed at the end of the year and never turned over to the defense. The only evidence not totally refuted was this student's testimony(even though this students testimony did contradict itself; she stood over me and gave me answers- she moved around the room and gave others answers "can't recall" when asked what other students were given answers, this was not the student who got a 100). So yes, it was important. And another student did testify that he did not see Mrs. Mudrak giving answers.

729
Points
Barry Paschal 06/12/10 - 11:47 am
0
0
Notice, forwhatitsworth, I

Notice, forwhatitsworth, I didn't say it wasn't important. I simply pointed out that the written documentation was more important. The idea some people seem to have - that this entire case rose or fell on this one boy's testimony - simply is not true.

lenab
0
Points
lenab 06/12/10 - 11:59 am
0
0
I also sat through the

I also sat through the Marathon hearing. I want to explain to bellanlilli that Charles Nagle did not vote to dismiss Mrs. Mudrak with the School Board. Mr. Nagle as Superintendent decided to fire her at the request of Lakeside Principal Jeff Carney, who is now an Assistant Superintendent under Mr. Nagle. Mrs. Mudrak was told by them that she could leave quietly (I believe they were going to allow her to quit). Mrs. Mudrak knowing she had done nothing wrong decided to bring the issue to the School Board. The School Board members that voted included Regina Butafusco, Mildred Blackburn, Mike Sleeper, and Wayne Bridges. There is one more Board member, but she apparently wasn't able to attend the hearing, so although she was present during a break in the hearing to complete a board meeting, she did not vote. One other tidbit if others did not already know...Barry Paschall's wife is principal at Steven's Creek Elementary whose students attend Lakeside High School after middle school. In my opinion I'm not surprised that he would take the administration's side to this issue. As for someone's suggestion that Mrs. Mudrak's family and friends, students and parents of students rally to support her they already are. I also want to comment on something I thought of the other night, but wasn't updated to the commentary online. Mrs. Mudrak had 5 Special Ed students in the class that the tests were in question. Mrs. Shephard the regular ed teacher co-teaching the class with Mrs. Mudrak had 19 students in the class. Mrs. Shephard taught the same class to regular ed students 2 other periods each day. Logic tells me that she taught Algebra 2 to at least 57 students (19students x 3classes=57). Mrs. Shephard is the person who brought the 5 special ed student's tests to Mrs. Sprouse an assistant principal at Lakeside. Mrs. Sprouse took them home overnight to understand what Mrs. Shephard was saying was out of line with the tests. The next day she asked Mrs. Shephard to bring her tests from the regular ed students. According to Mrs. Sprouse's testimony, Mrs. Shephard brought her a stack of 7 tests and she took the 3 off the top to compare with the 5 from the special ed students. Again in testimony, it came out that the tests she (Mrs. Sprouse) was given were from one of the other classes Mrs. Shephard taught, not the class period that Mrs. Mudrak co-taught with her. So they were comparing 100% of the special education student's test to less than 2% of the regular ed students taking one of 3 periods Mrs. Shephard taught Algebra 2.

Riverman1
86854
Points
Riverman1 06/12/10 - 12:49 pm
0
0
Barry Paschal may have

Barry Paschal may have information that some of us don’t. He says Van Meter has the IP address and “other information” from the FaceBook page in question. I’d like to see what becomes of that.

Secondly, Barry says the “written documents” were the most important evidence. That could mean anything. Exactly what does “document” mean? Were these uncorroborated statements a few made and because they signed them, we give them significance?

Could it be the documents are the relatively superior scores some of Ms. Mudrac’s students received? To my understanding, that’s why the other teacher complained.

It is not unreasonable that math test scores from these special needs kids could be far better than their scores in other subjects. Many of these kids are detailed oriented and thrive with math. Were the “documents” test scores from various classes?

So “written DOCUMENTS” could mean a lot and then again…as little as someone thinking something and writing it down.

It could be Van Meter will PROVE the page in question was not the kid’s FaceBook one, but so far he has just offered an opinion. If he can trace the IP address, it could be he will be able to prove what HE SAID.

Riverman1
86854
Points
Riverman1 06/12/10 - 01:00 pm
0
0
It's really important and

It's really important and reassuring to know the BOE based their decision on "DOCUMENTS" and not on the testimony of the kid, plus the assistant principal's testimony where she said one student brought notes with him to the test (still trying to figure out the significance of that).

I wonder why they would have even used those two testimonies if they had other more reliable and pertinent information?

I’m supportive of the BOE and keeping an open mind on this matter, but let’s all keep an open mind about Ms. Mudrak, too. I’m only commenting when I see things that don’t make sense or have too much significance placed on them. I also comment when I don't see ENOUGH SIGNIFICANCE placed on some factors such as missing tests.

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