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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

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lenab
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lenab 06/12/10 - 12:35 pm
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Riverman makes wonderful

Riverman makes wonderful points. I can't say if I would recognize Barry Paschal in person, but I don't think he attended the hearing on Tuesday. He said that it was his understanding that the "written documents" were the most important evidence and that the public were not able to see these. At the hearing, the actual tests of the 5 special education students were put up on computer screens for each of the school board members, the person giving testimony at the time, and both attorney tables. A screen had come down from the ceiling for the audience to see, but it was requested that it not be used because the tests had the students names on them, so the audience was not able to see what was discussed, we could only hear the testimony. So if it is his understanding that this was the most important evidence, shouldn't it have been equally important that Mrs. Mudrak's attorneys have access to the regular education student's test which had been destroyed? Also, regarding getting an IP address wouldn't that take either a subpoena, police involvement, possibly even involvement by the FBI?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 01:02 pm
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Lenab, it would probably take

Lenab, it would probably take a court order for FaceBook to give up the IP address in question. But I'd also like to have Mr. Van Meter on the stand with Dixieman or another great attorney questioning him about how he came to get involved in this. Who called him and what they told him to look for? What exactly did he look for and didn't look for to determine this was not AH's page? What is his understanding of the procedures used on FaceBook?

mable8
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mable8 06/12/10 - 02:25 pm
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I still do not believe Ms

I still do not believe Ms Mudrak should have been terminated from her job; frankly, I think she was set up by another person at her place of employment.

lenab
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lenab 06/12/10 - 02:30 pm
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I agree with you Riverman,

I agree with you Riverman, some kind of police or court involvement would be necessary to get the IP address of the Facebook page the Board of Education is saying was forged, perhaps an updated Chronicle article will give readers that information. Apparently, the Augusta Chronicle is accepting Van Metter as an expert because in this article they continue to use the word "fake" in reference to the student's Facebook page. What credentials does Mr. Van Meter hold that a newspaper would put such stock into what an employee of the Columbia County School System said? Mr. Van Meter's comments took pressure off the school system, his employer, that they allowed an unbalanced student take the stand againt an experienced teacher. A teacher in such good standing that Mr. Nagle the Superintendent of the school district had just signed her contract for the 2010-2011 school year.

manne
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manne 06/12/10 - 02:46 pm
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Carney, Sprouse, and Shepherd

Carney, Sprouse, and Shepherd are all certified/licensed educators. They are bound by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission ethical rules.

They most likely committed the following ethical violations in their accusations of Ms. Mudrak and also in their soliciting of testimony from the accusatory student:

"(d) Standard 4: Honesty - An educator shall exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting or omitting:
3. information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel
5. information submitted in the course of an official inquiry/investigation"

- from: http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Ethics/505-6-.01.pdf

"According to Georgia law, any citizen of the state of Georgia may file a complaint against a certified/licensed educator."
- from: http://www.gapsc.com/Ethics/GuidelinesforFilingaComplaint.asp)

Here is the form:
http://www.gapsc.com/Ethics/complaint_form.pdf

An investigation into the reasons for and steps used in bringing charges against Ms. Mudrak is absolutely essential for maintaining the professional standards of those who teach our children.

Our students need honest role models.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 02:56 pm
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Riverman1 wrote: The CCBOE is

Riverman1 wrote:

The CCBOE is taking away this lady's retirement, after many years of teaching with superior evaluations.

Absolutely untrue. Once a teacher becomes vested in the retirement system (ten years service), they receive all benefits they are entitled to based upon their service at the time of their dismissal or their leaving service voluntarily.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 02:55 pm
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The thread has gotten off

The thread has gotten off track. I say that if what is reported in the article is true, then the dirty tricks of Ms. Mudrak's supporters have gone way over the line. It is almost as bad as the dirty tricks played on Nikki Haley. We need to get back to integrity when we are making our arguments, not use technology to falsify evidence.

ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA
24
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ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA 06/12/10 - 03:27 pm
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Little Lamb... You are

Little Lamb...
You are mistaken. Several former teachers with CCBOE have lost their jobs through firing after 20 years of teaching, and lost ALL of their pension. Ask around.

Riverman1
82445
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 03:29 pm
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LL, settle down now. If

LL, settle down now. If someone put up another FaceBook page and claimed to be the student, we have no idea who did it. Now this is assuming, the kid didn't, in fact, put out all the info in dispute himself. As we have all said, the IP address should be traced and law enforcement should get involved.

Concerning, Ms. Mudrak losing her retirement, you could be right. You seem to know about it. Does she get the state contributed portion also? How does that work? If you don't know, maybe some of her supporters know.

In the past it was discussed that Linda Schrenko will get her retirement when she gets out of prison. I wonder if that still stands?

Riverman1
82445
Points
Riverman1 06/12/10 - 03:35 pm
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I still wish someone knew

I still wish someone knew what these "most important written documents" were about? They must have been something because the rest of the case is laughable.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 03:39 pm
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Little Lamb said: If what is

Little Lamb said:

If what is reported in the article is true, then the dirty tricks of Ms. Mudrak's supporters have gone way over the line. It is almost as bad as the dirty tricks played on Nikki Haley.

Riverman1 said:

If someone put up another FaceBook page and claimed to be the student, we have no idea who did it.

Well, of course we don't know exactly who posted the fake page. All I said was that it was a supporter of Ms. Mudrak. That's a logical assumption.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 03:47 pm
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Barry Paschal wrote: Notice,

Barry Paschal wrote:

Notice, forwhatitsworth, I didn't say it ["AH"’s testimony — LL] 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.

Exactly. And on the comments on an earlier thread, much ado was made over the testimony of assistant principal Sprouse, as if her testimony was the smoking gun that sent the board over the top. I think that the board listened to all the testimony, read all the written evidence, weighed the legal citations and school policy; then voted their best judgement. That's all we can ask.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 03:52 pm
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RM wrote: Does she get the

RM wrote:

Does she get the state contributed portion also?

Yes. You can take a "buyout" if you are less than a certain years of service, or you can wait until you reach retirement age and make a claim for retirement benefits.

Riverman1
82445
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 03:55 pm
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LL, Barry did say the written

LL, Barry did say the written documentation was more important than the testimony presented.

You said, "Well, of course we don't know exactly who posted the fake page. All I said was that it was a supporter of Ms. Mudrak. That's a logical assumption."

First off, I want to see the proof as I wrote before of what Mr. Van Meter based his opinion on. Secondly, if the kid didn't put up the FaceBook info and it was a spoof, it's entirely likely another kid who is no way related to Mrs. Mudrak's hearing did. You are taking a jump in your logic to assume it was one of her serious supporters.

Riverman1
82445
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 04:19 pm
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LL, what do you think the

LL, what do you think the "written evidence" was? Couldn't this evidence have been presented to the public with the names removed? How do you feel about the tests the other teacher gave that could have been presented by the defense have been destroyed?

lenab
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lenab 06/12/10 - 05:10 pm
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Little Lamb, I am upset that

Little Lamb, I am upset that you jumped to the conclusion that not only is the Facebook page a forgery, but that one of Mrs. Mudrak's supporters created a forged Facebook page. The Augusta Chronicle by using the word "fake" is leading readers to believe that this has been proven. No evidence except the word of an IT person working for the School District was used in the article. I believe they should have used the phrase "alleged forgery". Many of us can't wait to see the actual evidence regarding the Facebook page.

ColCo
711
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ColCo 06/12/10 - 05:19 pm
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It's interesting that the

It's interesting that the Chronicle is taking the word of the board, just because they say it's so...that's how this whole thing got started. They told Mudrak she needed to resign because she helped students cheat, she asked what proof they had, the board's response was that we don't have to show you, but because we say it's so, it is so.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 05:38 pm
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RM, lenab, and ColCo all make

RM, lenab, and ColCo all make good points. But the Chronicle and News-Times reporter is in a bind here. This is a breaking story. He needs to get some copy in the paper. He has a statememt from school superintendent Nagle and technology director Van Meter. Now, who can he interview to get the other side? “A.H.”’s actions appear to exhonorate him, according to Nagle and Van Meter. So what can the reporter do? If Facebook will co-operate, perhaps the school system can get a name and perhaps they will turn it over to the Chronicle after they turn it over to the sheriff. Let's just sit back and let the story unfold a little.

secretagentman
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Points
secretagentman 06/12/10 - 05:42 pm
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omg! Anybody can make a fake,

omg! Anybody can make a fake, or additional facebook page.... The student, or anybody else could've done it....... you just need to go to yahoo or gmail and create a new email address and then make up a new identity on facebook! You would need the student's personal computer to see if he accessed his "new" email address to confirm the setup process for facebook.... It is unlikely Mr Van Meter could tell if the boy set up the page or someone else..... I have seen some disparaging remarks made about the kid involved... I have no way of knowing if they are true, but it is entirely possible a kid would/could lie about a teacher- they do it all the time, especially if they are in trouble. What I havent heard is if the kid had some sort of history or beef against the teacher- if not, why would he lie about any of this just to hurt this teacher who was allegedly trying to help him?

schoolparent
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schoolparent 06/12/10 - 05:44 pm
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Riverman you bring up another

Riverman you bring up another interesting point about the destroyed tests. Why would any information that might be construed as pertinent be destroyed? Was testing for all of Lakeside High grades destroyed as well or just the Algebra classes in question? If it is just the Algebra class tests that were destroyed who took it upon themselves to do so and why?

secretagentman
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secretagentman 06/12/10 - 06:20 pm
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I am still amazed at the

I am still amazed at the simplistic knowledge of facebook demonstrated by the IT guy, and the officials that listened to him! Really? I am a 46 yr old teacher and mom and I know more about facebook.... geez... ANYONE could make up this page, including the kid , a supporter of the teacher etc. It would take about 5 minutes...

corgimom
31473
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corgimom 06/12/10 - 07:44 pm
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I wonder if it was ever

I wonder if it was ever considered that Mrs. Mudrak taught the material thoroughly and completely and that the students understood the question, hence the correct answer?

When it comes to special ed kids, how much assistance is ok, and how much isn't? If they aren't able to do the tests without substantial assistance, why are they being given the tests? Why set up kids for failure? What purpose does that serve?

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 08:16 pm
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SecretAgentMan wrote: . . .

SecretAgentMan wrote:

. . . ANYONE could make up this page . . .

I would say that is a stretch. But for the sake of argument, if ANYONE could make up that page, then there is no value in trying to find out who it was. The task would be too daunting.

Riverman1
82445
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 09:48 pm
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The problem is that the CC

The problem is that the CC administrators have already indicated the testimony of AH does have value by their bringing him in to testify, plus saying those were not his comments on Facebook.

Riverman1
82445
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Riverman1 06/12/10 - 09:59 pm
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Let's all take a deep breath

Let's all take a deep breath like LL told me and look at this. The rules allow a special needs teacher to provide some help with tests. The whole thing is unclear as to how much and what kind of help can be provided. Isn't this like Barney pulling his lone bullet from his shirt pocket for those parking over the one hour time limit in Mayberry?

Where is Andy when we need him to settle things down and let this fine teacher go back to work? Aunt Bee feed everyone some apple pie and let's enjoy the summer.

lenab
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lenab 06/12/10 - 10:31 pm
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corgimom is correct that

corgimom is correct that Special Ed kids can do well with what are called accomodations on their Individual Education Plan. The special ed kids that we are talking about have normal intelligence, but may have a learning disability, attention problems (ADHD), or in the case of one specific student who knew English as a second language. For that student Mrs. Mudrak had to read the directions for the test, and any problems that included words. The other students' accomodations included such things as small group testing, extended time allowed on the test, and/or fewer test questions than the regular ed students, enough to show mastery. Mrs. Mudrak is a great teacher. She had 5 students for this class, their test grades ranged from 69 to 101. If she was going to help any student cheat wouldn't she have "helped" the kid who made the 69? In any case if she was helping the students cheat why the wide range of grades? Mrs. Mudrak had these kids in a Math Lab daily going over the material, then they would have the actual class later in the day. Mrs. Mudrak also made herself available before, during , and after school for tutoring to her students. In a nutshell, she prepared her students very well for the test. She only worked with 5 students, she was able to see if they had grasped the subject matter, and if not would reteach the material until the students knew it. Possibly, Mrs. Shephard teaching 19 students in the class could not determine how prepared her students were with the material. Also, Mrs. Shephard was absent both the day of and the day before the test. On Monday when she graded the test she brought the tests to Mrs. Sprouse because all 5 of the special ed kids got one specific question correct in regard to a graph. Apparently the students had mastered with Mrs. Mudraks teaching, and reteaching the information to answer that question correctly. Yep, definately cause for termination.

Little Lamb
45377
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Little Lamb 06/12/10 - 11:01 pm
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Lenab wrote: Mrs. Mudrak had

Lenab wrote:

Mrs. Mudrak had these kids in a Math Lab daily going over the material, then they would have the actual class later in the day. Mrs. Mudrak also made herself available before, during , and after school for tutoring to her students. In a nutshell, she prepared her students very well for the test. She only worked with 5 students, she was able to see if they had grasped the subject matter, and if not would reteach the material until the students knew it. Possibly, Mrs. Shephard teaching 19 students in the class could not determine how prepared her students were with the material.

I'm sure it's a real ego trip, a real high, for a special ed teacher to obtain bragging rights that her special ed students got higher average scores than the regular ed students. It's motive, all right. But is it motive for the special ed teacher to cheat, or is it motive for the regular ed teacher to accuse wrongfully the special ed teacher of cheating? Or both?

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 06/12/10 - 11:57 pm
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I think that the admins are

I think that the admins are forgetting the purpose of tests, formative vs summative. It's not about the numbers but about what the student learned. Also, special ed does not mean stupid. There are so many different kinds of learning problems as was mentioned above. Finally, I agree that the IP of the Facebook creator could not be found without a court order, etc. The IT person may be brilliant with networks, software and hardware, but Facebook is another kind of animal. Remember when Hotmail would not give out the password of the soldier who died so that his family could get his final mail? FB has similar policies.
I just feel that this teacher is innocent (I have never met her or any of her family and I don't work for any BOE) Usually the guilty will quietly slip away, but her constant and fervent insistence of her innocence seems like the protests of a truthful person.

lhsstudent
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lhsstudent 06/13/10 - 12:42 am
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As a student at Lakeside High

As a student at Lakeside High School with a Facebook page, I accessed Avery's page both Wednesday and Thursday. Knowing both Avery and this case, there are a few things I would like to point out.

1: Van Meter claims that Hill's "profanity-laced tirade" was an impersonator on a different Facebook page under the name Avery Hill. That is an inaccurate assumption because when I heard the news on Wednesday and went on Facebook to search Avery, only one option for Avery Hill came up. If there were Hill's actual page and an impersonator's page, two options would have come up while searching. Therefore, meaning only one Facebook page existed.
2. Another point I would like to share is Avery's claim that he had not accessed his account since June 1st. Any avid Facebook user should be aware that everyone has the ability to delete any posts on their profile for others to view. Hill would have had the opportunity to delete everything from the past days and change all of his information to make it seem like a completely different profile.
3. When I accessed his profile on Wednesday, there were 70+ friends. Could you really create all of this in a 24 hour period?
4. On Thursday, when I accessed his page once again, his profile changed. Anyone can change a profile with the click of a mouse. Please Board, explain to us how you arrived at your assumption? Something seems to be missing...

Please know that I have never been a student of Mrs. Mudrak or Mrs. Shepard, but as a proud member of the Lakeside community, I would like to see the truth come out.

schoolparent
114
Points
schoolparent 06/13/10 - 01:22 am
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For Facebook to comply they

For Facebook to comply they will need a court order.Facebook,because of its software, can identify easily if this was a presumed fake account or the account of the student that testified against his teacher in the hearing.
Who will pay for this legal action...the BOE has now taken the stand of defending the student through the AC. So should they be responsible ?

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