When Schools Hire an Unqualified Scammer

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When Dazhon Darien was hired as the athletic director at Pikesville High School in Baltimore County Maryland last summer, the school felt like they had really landed someone special. After all, Darien had degrees from prestigious universities and more than a decade of experience as an administrator in higher education. He even had experience with Artificial Intelligence. There was only one problem with this ideal employment match. None of that was true. Darien's resume was comprised of a collection of fabrications and exaggerations. Only a few months later, he was terminated from the school and now faces criminal charges for theft, stalking, and disruptive activities. He was found to have used AI to create a fake recording of the Pikesville school principal using racist epithets and spreading it online, causing a huge disruption at the school. (CBS News)

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It was disturbing to hear that Dazhon Darien, Pikesville High School's former athletic director, found his way into schools with false resumes, said Izzy Patoka, Baltimore County Council chairman.

So disturbing, the chairman said, that the county government needs to step in.

"While Baltimore County Public Schools has its responsibilities to educate children, the families, they live in our districts," Patoka said. Any staff members near students "need to be vetted carefully" so this doesn't happen again, he said.

A Baltimore Banner investigation found that Darien, who police accused of using artificial intelligence to impersonate a principal, made at least 29 false claims on four job applications using two different names.

Now the school is asking if there are any other people that have snuck into the system using false resumes. It certainly sounds as if someone should have been able to uncover Darien's real employment history during the hiring process. An in-depth investigation by the Baltimore Banner revealed that the man had been crisscrossing the country for years taking jobs at various small colleges and high schools, rarely lasting more than a few months before getting himself into trouble.

He took a teaching position in Texas in 2021, submitting a resume claiming that he had spent eight years working in higher education as an administrator in student affairs. He had only held two somewhat related positions, each for only a few months. He also claimed to have a child in college. He was 29 at the time. Prior to that, in 2018, he obtained a position at Colorado Mesa University. That fell apart quickly also.

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He worked briefly at a couple of other colleges as a student advisor. He put on his resume that he had attended Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., and was currently pursuing a doctorate. School records show that he attended for part of three semesters and was never awarded a degree. He has also claimed to have a master's degree, but there are no records reflecting that. 

The list goes on. Did Darien watch the movie Catch Me If You Can a few too many times and start thinking that looked like a pretty cool idea? The problem is that Leonardo DiCaprio was actually capable of faking his way through various jobs and fooling people. It doesn't sound as if Darien brought those same skill sets to the job with him. Still, we're left to wonder what happened to the vetting process at the public schools in and around Baltimore. Doesn't the human resources department verify employment and search records as a routine procedure? At the very least they could do a Google search. But if Dazhon Darien moves on and applies at some other school, his name will be showing up all over the internet, and not in a good way. Unless, of course, he changes his name again.

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David Strom 10:00 AM | June 21, 2024
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