Anderson Schools admin working with unaccredited degree

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Richard Essex/Eyewitness News

Anderson - 13 Investigates has uncovered a local school administrator who is apparently violating the law, working with a degree that isn't even accredited by the state.

The name on the office door claims it is occupied by the holder of a PhD, namely Joe Cronk, the Executive Director of Transportation and Operations for the Anderson Community School Corporation.

"I had to go through all of the criteria. I had to do the dissertation, I had to do the defense, I had to do the, of course, all of the coursework," Cronk said.

It could be a waste of his time. That coursework was done through an online school called Kennedy-Western University, which changed its name to Warren National. It's a school that has never been accredited by neither the state nor the federal government.

"I don't know about that. I know it is not accredited by the North Central Council on Colleges," Cronk said.

The school has moved four times, with the last known address in Wyoming. Eyewitness News tried to contact them by sending an inquiry online, but it turns out the school isn't taking any questions. Their website is down and there are no working phone numbers.

"This is the first I have heard of it, yeah," Cronk said.

Since 1997 in Indiana, it is against the law to claim, in writing or in any manner, that you have a PhD, unless the degree is from an accredited institution recognized by the state.

"Well, accreditation is a funny thing. They are licensed and they were licensed in the state of Wyoming to issue PhDs," Cronk said.

The Commission on Proprietary Education, the state agency that regulates for profit schools, sent Eyewitness News this statement:

"The Indiana Commission on Proprietary Education does not, nor have we ever, accredited Kennedy-Western University. To my knowledge, the university has never applied for licensure to operate in this state."

The regulation of PhDs from a traditional school is done by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and frankly, this is an issue they have not encountered. Their belief is employers will do background checks.

"But to have someone, in general, claim to have a credential that is not legitimate, that person really didn't earn from an institution that is positioned to offer that program that is accredited, to offer that program, then sure, it does rub me the wrong way," said Ken Sauer, PhD, Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Cronk says the school board looked over his credentials.

"There was a committee that you have to go through when you increase your education and so I believe they did," he said.

Cronk is not a teacher and says his job doesn't require a PhD. However, the Anderson Community school board is paying him more for the diploma, though how much more, he wouldn't say.

The superintendent of Anderson Schools declined an Eyewitness News request for an interview.