How To Tell If A Teaching Certificate Is A Fake
February 2, 2006, 4:34 PM by Kelli Grant
A former southwest Minnesota teacher faces felony charges.
Kari Hiller is accused of making fake documents -- including a teaching certificate -- to get a job in Ellsworth. And it turns out she's not alone.
There are details on a similar case in South Dakota and the state has a system in place to make sure your child's teacher is trained to be in a classroom.
Wednesday night we told you about Keri Hiller. We did some more checking and found out about another South Dakota woman accused of forging documents to get a teaching job.
State officials say she scanned a current certificate, changed the name and date and a school accepted it.
But when administrators faxed the document to the education department. they noticed something was wrong. Here's what they watch out for.
Every South Dakota Teaching certificate contains the state's logo, specific font and a signature from the Secretary of Education. three details Kari Hiller is accused of altering.
"The certificate came and when he sent it back to us the first indication was that it had a current date on it but it had the previous South Dakota Education secretary on it who's not been in office for a number
Director of Accreditations and Teacher quality -- Melody Schopp -- says because Hiller's certificate was sent out of state, the alleged problems weren't caught right away.
But since they were caught, she says the system is working.
She says, "The biggest thing we have for checks and balances is our database which clearly keeps track of everything the minute the person applies they're monitored and their tracked in that system."
Each certificate has it's own number. A number with a match in the database. In the most recent instances of forgery. no match was found.
Schopp says, "The security and the reliability of our state database has really been the catch all for everything because it really stops there and it allowed us to further investigate and say this document doesn't look right."
The department is currently taking additional steps, like copy protected paper. The word copy shows up whenever a document is xeroxed, faxed, and even scanned.
Hiller along with anyone who forges a teaching certificate cannot apply for a teaching certificate or a teaching position in any other state because of their offense. Their names are automatically entered in a national database which will alert other school districts in the country.
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