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Online School Diploma Worth The Money?

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
Ginger is the Senior Investigative Reporter of the CB...
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Inside a high-rise, just off Sherry Lane in University Park, the CBS 11 I-Team expected to find Roosevelt High School. The address on the online school’s website, listed it as the school’s location.

When the I-team called the school, the representative even confirmed he was inside the high rise.

“Are you in this 5956 Sherry Lane office?” Senior Investigative Reporter Ginger Allen asked.

“Yes,” said the representative on the other end of the line.

Online-School-3

But the Sherry Lane location turned out to be a mail box. And what turned out to be an educational opportunity turned out to be a disappointment for Krystal Hoggan.

“I thought they were a real high school that just offered an online program,” said Hoggan.

The Terrell mom said her teenaged daughter, once very active in drama and school activities, had decided regular school was not for her.

Hoggan chose Roosevelt High School because it appeared to be close to home and had a “signature” program.

Looking at the website, Hoggan said, “See the signature offered all these courses she would be able to go through.” Hoggan wanted her daughter on a program that took time and required studying.

But Hoggan said the school’s sales representatives pushed a “fast track program” instead, promising Hoggan’s daughter a diploma in 15 days for $185.

The I-Team watched Hoggan chat online with sales representatives. She asked about the signature program again with our cameras rolling, and she was told that program is not available. She is encouraged to consider the “fast-track” program.

Texas Secretary of State records show John Bojescul is a “managing member” of Roosevelt High School, LLC. In June 2013, he listed himself as a registered agent.

A LinkedIn page for a John Bojescul in Texas lists him as the Vice Principal of Roosevelt H.S. The same LinkedIn lists Bojescul as the principal of Tejeda Middle School in San Antonio, Texas.

The I-Team has repeatedly tried to email and call John Bojescul at Roosevelt H.S. We also contacted Tejeda Middle School. No one has responded.

Just a few miles from the Sherry Lane location, another Texas educator, Coby Cathey runs Resolute Academy. The address on the website, resoluteacademy.com, took us to another high-rise on McKinney Avenue in Dallas.

But we did not find the school or Cathey.

A Security guard told us, “It doesn’t exist here.”

The I-team reached Cathey by phone. He agreed to meet us at the McKinney Avenue location but later canceled.

Cathey told us Resolute Academy began in 2008 and has up to 20-students at a time. He said he proudly displays his name and face on his website. And in an email, he said he “keeps the students expenses low” without the overhead of a building.

Cathey also thanked us for doing the story and emailed several tips for consumers looking into online schools including, “When you call, if you never talk to the same person or if it sounds like it is a call center, that’s not good. Real schools don’t have off-shore call centers,” he told us.

The I-Team took our findings to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. TEPSAC is used by the state to oversee private schools. John Craig, president-elect of the commission, says the agency has been contacted by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which now has an ongoing investigation into online schools.

“The potential is that they would take that diploma, they would take their resume to that college admissions office, and the administrative officer would say that diploma is not valid, those transcripts are meaningless and that’s the challenge being faced by a growing number of students,” Craig says.

He says Roosevelt H.S. and Resolute Academy should have a brick and mortar presence in Texas, or somewhere in the United States.

One of the diplomas offered by Resolute requires only 19 school credits, but the state of Texas requires 22 credits, at a minimum, for public schools. “Any admissions office is going to look at that and know that this not the number of credits required,” Craig said.

Craig is also concerned neither school is recognized by any of the Texas-approved accreditors. TEPSAC provides a list of agencies on its website that are recognized by the state.

Cathey of Resolute Academy told the I-team he is not accredited by any of those on the TEPSAC list. “Most of them are religiously affiliated. Resolute Academy is not affiliated with any religion,” he said, adding: “I have chosen to pursue accreditation with Accreditation International and Middle States because they accredit public and private secular, and nonsecular schools, and are more familiar” with his type of school.

There are two accrediting agencies on the Roosevelt High School site. One is not on the TEPSAC list. When the I-team clicked on the other link, the Council for Training and Distant Education Accreditation, or CTDEA, the page does not appear to exist.

“If you’re looking for a school for your child, one of the first things that needs to be asked and answered is your school accredited, and then, by whom?” says Craig.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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