College & Workforce Readiness

School Board Chief in Hot Water Over Alleged GED Cheating

By Catherine Gewertz — April 22, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a strange tale of one thing leading to another, the chairman of a local school board in Kentucky is under investigation for allegedly paying someone to take the GED for him. He was trying to use the GED to settle accusations that his high school diploma is bogus.

The Kentucky State Police allege that Dexter Smith paid someone to take the GED for him, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. Smith, a high school dropout who is the chairman of the Knox County school board, in Barbourville, had hoped to use the equivalency test to put to rest a controversy about whether he got his high school diploma from an online “diploma mill,” according to the Associated Press.

In Kentucky, school board members are supposed to have high school diploma or GEDs. Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Jacobs said Smith signed a statement declaring he met the requirements when he ran for office three years ago, according to the AP. The state police has conducted a perjury investigation, and handed over the results to prosecutors, who will decide whether to file charges, the AP said.

The inquiry into Smith’s qualifications is a byproduct of a swirl of other questions about the Knox County school system. The state’s Office of Education Accountability has found that Smith, another board member, and the superintendent broke the law by getting too involved in daily school operations, according to the AP. Smith and other board members voted to fire the superintendent, sparking questions by angry citizens about Smith’s educational background.

The state attorney general’s office is investigating, and state education officials confirmed they have “an open investigation” into a number of allegations in the school district, but wouldn’t elaborate, the AP reported.

A local newspaper in Barbourville, the Mountain Advocate, reported last month that Smith had received his high school diploma from Nation High School, an unaccredited online institution that’s been labeled a scam by the Better Business Bureau, the Mountain Advocate has reported. The newspaper said that Nation High’s advertisements offered diplomas for $289 based on students’ “prior life experience.”

To settle community questions about his educational qualifications in the wake of the superintendent’s firing, Smith posted his high school diploma on Facebook. But that only sparked more questions, and Smith decided to take the GED, the AP said.

Kentucky State Police said he went to a local adult education center to take it on March 30, but didn’t take the exam. Surveillance video shows him talking with a teacher there, who then took the GED when Smith left the building, according to the Herald Leader. That teacher has since “opted to retire,” the newspaper said.

Smith’s lawyer, Johnny Turner, declined to comment on Thursday and calls to Smith’s home went unanswered, the AP said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.