Law & Courts

Teacher-Licensing Scheme Lands Memphis Man in Court

By Lawrence Buser, The Commercial Appeal, Tennessee (MCT) — July 11, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Since 1995 dozens of teachers and aspiring teachers in Memphis, Arkansas, and Mississippi paid a broker from $1,500 to $3,000 to have others take their licensing exams.

That broker, federal authorities say, was guidance counselor Clarence Mumford, who arranged for stand-ins by having the teachers send him their drivers’ licenses and Social Security numbers, then hiring Memphis City Schools employees or former employees to take the tests.

Mumford was named in a 45-count indictment Tuesday charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States, document fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry penalties of from five to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Atty. Ed Stanton said the case involved fewer than 50 teachers and bogus test-takers, but described the scam in harsh terms.

“This indictment charges crimes that strike at the fabric of our society,” Stanton said at a news conference. “In an area that should be sacrosanct—the education of our children—Mumford has created an atmosphere in which teachers who are not only unqualified, but who have also gained credentials by fraud, stand in front of our students every day.”

Stanton said Mumford’s conduct harmed not just the schools and system, but also “qualified individuals who could have obtained jobs (that were) held by unqualified teachers.”

Mumford, 58, who was arrested Tuesday, made a first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo who said she would appoint a private attorney for him, though he still would be required to pay $200 a month in attorney’s fees.

The former assistant principal at Humes Junior High said he now works as a guidance counselor with the Hughes, Ark., School District, though he said that could end when officials there learn of his indictment.

He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond, meaning he must post no money, but could be liable for the bond if he violates terms of his release.

Stanton said the investigation began two years ago in West Tennessee when a test proctor saw the same person take the teacher’s exam twice in the same day. He said the investigation is ongoing and did not rule out more indictments.

The test-takers were identified only by their initials, including “JB,” “FK,” “CS” and “SS” among others. Authorities said Mumford directed the stand-ins to appear at test sites in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, where they would falsely identify themselves as the teachers who were registered for the test.

“Defendant Mumford obtained tens of thousands of dollars from teachers and aspiring teachers during the conspiracy,” the indictment said.

John Barker, MCS Supt. Kriner Cash’s chief of staff, said, “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment at this time.”

The tests involved those of the Educational Testing Service, including the PRAXIS series required by many states for those entering the teaching system or for teachers obtaining subject-specific endorsements on their teaching licenses. Departments of education in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi rely on the exam results.

Those taking the PRAXIS exams are required to sign confidentiality statements attesting that they are the people whose names and addresses were used in the test application process.

They also are required to present a driver’s license for identification; the false test-takers had bogus licenses doctored by Mumford to display their photo and the teacher’s name and address, authorities said.

The indictment says the scam began as early as January of 1995 and ended March 13, 2010.

In one case, according to the indictment, a teacher identified as “EB” was registered to take a PRAXIS exam on June 13, 2009, at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro where the registration fee was paid for by Mumford’s credit card and the exam was taken by impostor “CS.”

Other fraudulent test-taking allegedly occurred on Jan. 8, 2008, at the University of Mississippi; on Jan. 10, 2009, at East Arkansas Community College; on March 13, 2010, at Jackson State University in Mississippi; and also on that date at Rust College in Mississippi.

Mumford draws a monthly pension from Memphis City Schools, where he worked for nearly 24 years beginning in 1987. He also worked in the Tunica, Miss., school district while he was facing charges in Memphis of paddling and injuring a student in 1996. He eventually was cleared in that case.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Supreme Court Asks for Biden Administration's Views on Legal Status of Charter Schools
Stemming from a suit over a North Carolina school's dress code, the issue is whether "public" charter schools act with government authority.
3 min read
Thunder storm sky over the United States Supreme Court building in Washington DC.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Law & Courts West Virginia Law Barring Transgender Girls From School Sports Upheld by Federal Judge
The decision is a turnabout for the judge, who cast doubt on the law in 2021 and issued an order allowing a transgender girl to compete.
4 min read
Judge gavel on law books with statue of justice and court government background. concept of law, justice, legal.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Law & Courts A Teacher Argued His MAGA Hat Was Protected Speech. Here's What a Federal Appeals Court Said
Did a principal violate a teacher's rights when she told him not to bring his Donald Trump-inspired hat to a racial-sensitivity training?
4 min read
Image of a gavel
iStock/Getty
Law & Courts School District Policy Basing Restroom Access on 'Biological Sex' Upheld by Appeals Court
The sharply divided appellate court rules against transgender student Drew Adams and possibly tees up a major fight in the Supreme Court.
5 min read
Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Dec. 5, 2019.
Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside a federal courthouse in Atlanta in 2019. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled against him on Dec. 30.
Ron Harris/AP