Robin Anthony Toogood II was an admired educator, the kind of principal who inspires loyalty among other teachers for his compassion and positive attitude. To his students, he was a role model who commanded respect, a leader who handled discipline infractions with a gentle hand.

But according to local schools officials, Toogood harbored a secret throughout his 15-year career in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia schools: Although he claimed to be highly educated — saying he had a doctorate — in reality he was a college dropout.

Former colleagues said they were surprised that Toogood appears to have repeatedly landed teaching and administrative jobs while providing fake or embellished credentials, as Virginia education officials have alleged. Those who worked with him said Toogood was known for his gregarious charm, warm smile and innate leadership qualities.

“He would have been the last person you would have ever expected to lie,” said Katie Holland, a former substitute teacher at St. Michael the Archangel, a Catholic elementary school in Silver Spring where Toogood worked as an assistant principal during the 2007-2008 school year.

You know, this sort of thing probably goes on more frequently than we know about.  Granted, it takes real cajones to pull off an educational heist such as this one but there is a valuable lesson to be learned here.  Listen to how Mr. Toogood is described.  He sounds like the ideal principal, doesn’t he?

The teachers like him, the kids like him, and he has charm and innate leadership qualities.  How many of us can think of a principal that really fill the bill such as Mr. Toogood?  Damn few!

I am ready to suggest that principals save themselves a bunch of time and money and just go to motivational classes.  They need to learn to get along with adults rather than bully them.  They need to make children want to please.  They don’t need to be their buddy but they do need to be a trusted adult who at least knows a few of the kids’ names.  This new breed of principal also needs to be able to relate to parents.  This Principal needs to defend his or her staff but assure parents that real problems are being handled.  No wink wink nudge nudge.   Seriously folks.  Think of one good reason why Mr. Principal needs to have an MA or a PhD in some subject they aren’t going to teach or something hokie like Principles of Education.

Now all principals need to know school law, how to manage money, and the basics.  but let’s not do overkill.   Teach principals exactly what they need to know for the state and locality where they were hired.  That should do the trick.

Cut the City of Manassas some slack.  They pretty much do what everyone else does–rely on the credential verification from  the Virginia State Board of Education.  Those are the cats who do the licensure.   Localities usually do criminal background checks but they don’t check into all the college credentials as a rule, or at least they didn’t used to do so.

Most of the principals I have known in my life wanted to make more money.  Often they were coaches.  Very few of the hard core academic teachers wanted to go up that ladder of success.  I am still thinking that other than some contrived, artificial reasons, Mr. Toogood probably was one best principals in the entire area.   Prove me wrong.

10 Thoughts to “Maybe principals should not have degrees…..?????”

  1. Wolve

    “Was” a good principal maybe. Now he has been exposed as a long-time liar to one and all, including the parents and students who may have liked him and admired his performance, and has embarrassed his former superiors. Big negative knocks off any positives in my view.

  2. Rick Bentley

    I worked for a guy who faked a Bachelors in Computer Science, and a Masters in Physics. Those of us who actually had the degrees knew that he was faking. There were fundamental things that he didn’t know. We talked openly about the fact that he was faking his credentials. Our bosses didn’t care; they felt he did a good job.

    But at the ground level, in that instance, we knew better. The guy was faking a lot of the time. He was fundamentally dishonest, and always playing games to try to stay one step ahead. He would pin his failures on other people, and then tell absolute lies behind closed doors pinning those failures on other people.

    Eventually he transferred out to the big city (Fairfax) and after a year out here his new boss who could tell that he was faking had an audit done, and he was fired.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Toogood’s performance is more nuanced than has been let on. I doubt that someone this fundamentally dishonest manages to do especially well at any job. People capable of this type of fraud don’t quite have it together, I would think. God knows my old boss didn’t – he was a sociopath, who gave me some amazing stories.

  3. I have decided to clarify. I am not advocating that school boards hire people without the proper credentials.

    I am pointing out the irony –apparently Mr. Toogood did a pretty good job without all the BS and paperwork. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here about what it really takes to be an effective school leader.

    Folks, it isn’t the paperwork. All the classes, degrees and credentials in the world don’t make a good principal. Just something to think about….

  4. Rick Bentley

    But I wouldn’t accept at face value that he was doing a good job. It was said of my former boss at one time that he was doing a pretty good job; scratch the surface and all you had was a great b***s*** merchant.

    1. Usually people in that profession are real quick to sing if someone is a louse.

      The guy is fired. He can’t hurt them.

      My point is that there are all sorts of principals out there with impressive [choke-sputter-cough] paperwork who are very lousy administrators. There are people out there who are fundamentally nice people who never learned their jobs. There are some principals out there who simply suck.

  5. @Rick Bentley

    My husband and I know someone who faked their entire life, practically. They weren’t in education. This dude had an impressive resume. It was all lies. We saw it on his word processor. However, we knew him back when …he was a kid around 19 or 20 driving a Pepsi Cola truck. He had the gift of gab and BS. Then he forgot who he was.

    He got on a roll…decided he would invent a degree from the University of Maryland, and Wharton. He went all over the world running up expense accounts on whatever company he worked for. He also pulled the same fake jobs in his personal life, destroying the lives of several women and several children.

    Rick, you are correct. People who do this are sociopaths. We called this dude “The Weasel.” I wish I knew where he was so I could call him out publically. No company needs this kind of dishonesty. It costs them money and reputation.

    Most reputable companies fire on the spot. No time to even empty your desk. You are escorted off the property.

  6. Rick Bentley

    Yeah, my former boss had some stuff going on in his personal life too. He had a second phone line installed in his office (this is 1990, before cell phones OR call waiting) for his girlfriend to call him, so that when his wife called him he never appeared unavailable. We could hear him cooing to his girlfriend, then putting that phone down and taking a call from his wife, then finishing with her and cooing to the girlfriend again.

    His personna was that of a sincerely religious conservative guy. And I had some coworkers that thought he was the salt of the earth. until they saw his wife running naked down the street while he chased her with a phone he had ripped out of the wall.

    Hard to segment pathological recklessness.

    1. The Weasel wasn’t political to my knowledge. He wanted people to think he was more successful than he really was. When he married for the second time, he swiped his wife-to-be’s credit cards and put the high end reception on HER cards after telling her he was paying for everything. As I recall his reception was at Clydes in Georgetown with the huge shrimp specially flown in from somewhere. He insisted his daughter go to private school in Switzerland. Her mother refused to send her child. The mom figured he would forget to pay the bill. He was a disgusting phony. He hated me because he knew I knew.

      I also went over to his ex’s house and drank his expensive Turkish wine…on ice. (Because I could) I made sure he found out. The current wife liked the ex wife. The current soon became an EX. she caught on.

  7. DB

    As teacher who works in the same system I flummoxed as to how Mr. Toogood got around the requirement to have official transcripts sent from university/college directly to HR. I’ve worked for mcps for far longer than Toogood, and each time I’ve either updated my degrees or recertified I had to arrange for the universities/colleges to send official transcripts to HR. HR in mcps then sent the documents to DOE Richmond. I’m curious as to how he avoided this.

    1. Maybe he went through Richmond? Or…maybe he wasn’t there long enough to update?

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