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Ex-LR Schools Chief Dexter Suggs Loses Doctorate Amid Plagiarism Question

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LITTLE ROCK – An Indiana university said Monday that the former head of the Little Rock School District no longer holds a doctorate from the school, and the district said it is no longer obligated to pay ex-Superintendent Dexter Suggs under the terms of a settlement agreement.

Don Sprowl, the chief academic officer for Indiana Wesleyan University, confirmed that Suggs no longer has a doctorate of education in organizational leadership. He said that the decision was made earlier this month but that he could not talk about specifics because of student privacy requirements.

Suggs resigned in April amid plagiarism allegations involving his 2009 doctoral dissertation. Attorney and blogger Matt Campbell posted photos of Suggs’ dissertation next to a 2005 University of Oklahoma dissertation, showing more than a dozen sentences were printed word-for-word in both.

Reached on a family member’s cellphone Monday, Suggs asked a reporter not to call the number again and hung up.

The Arkansas Department of Education had agreed to make payments of nearly $250,000 to Suggs before Jan. 1 unless his doctorate was revoked. Suggs was paid a little more than $46,000 within 10 days of his resignation.

The Little Rock district said Monday that an additional July 1 payment was made on time but that the district’s obligation was now over.

The Arkansas Department of Education began operating the Little Rock School District in January. The State Board of Education approved a takeover after six of the district’s schools were classified as being in academic distress.

In a statement Monday, department spokeswoman Kim Friedman said Education Commissioner Johnny Key was looking forward to moving past the issues with the former superintendent.

“The separation agreement outlines the consequences to Mr. Suggs in the event his degree was revoked. With that issue now closed, the commissioner is eager to assist (the district) in its ongoing process of improvement,” she wrote.

The severance agreement included a nondisclosure/nondisparagement clause that prohibits Suggs from speaking about the resignation agreement and prohibits Department of Education officials from making disparaging statements about Suggs.

Key hired Baker Kurrus, a former Little Rock School Board member, to take over as the district’s superintendent in May.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)

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