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Law Aims to Prevent Repeat of Freehold School’s Diploma Mill Debacle

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan sponsored to ensure teachers and school administrators do not abuse school district paid-for tuition assistance programs by attaining bogus degrees was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Chris Christie.

The bipartisan law (A-1894) stems from an episode at the Freehold Regional High School District where three administrators used $8,700 in taxpayer funds to pay for doctoral “degrees” from Breyer State University – an unaccredited online diploma mill. Before the bogus nature of the degrees was uncovered, the district provided each with a $2,500 salary increase, which was commensurate to their being awarded actual doctoral degrees.

“The use of school money to buy a fraudulent degree from a diploma mill is not only academically and professionally dishonest but slap in the face of taxpayers,” said Cryan (D-Union). “This kind of sham should never be allowed to happen.”

This law will ensure boards of education provide employees with tuition assistance only for academic coursework completed at an accredited higher education institution. It also will require district sign-off on any employee’s course of study prior to enrollment in any course for which tuition assistance is sought. Employees also will have to receive and “A” or “B” grade in the course in order to receive a tuition payment. Boards of education will be empowered to set higher standards if they so chose.

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