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Wyandanch schools exec files harassment suit

A Wyandanch schools employee, named in a report this week as using a degree from an unaccredited college to receive a stipend, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the school administrator who first questioned his credentials.

Larry McCord, director of attendance, says in the suit against Mary Jones, assistant superintendent for human resources and secondary curriculum, that the credentials case was in retaliation for rejecting Jones' advances.

Superintendent Pless Dickerson also is named in the suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. McCord, who had once served as the district's general counsel, said in court papers he is suing the superintendent because the administration did nothing to stop Jones.

"Jones began a campaign of defamation against Mr. McCord for his refusal to have sex with her," the court document said. "Jones spread false rumors around the district that Mr. McCord had not earned his doctoral degree."

Dickerson declined to comment. The report said an independent investigator had looked into the harassment complaint.

Jones said Friday that the independent investigator found no wrongdoing on Jones' part. McCord "made up the story after it was discovered the doctorate was phony," she said.

McCord's attorney, Steven Morelli of Garden City, said his client is seeking unspecified damages and thinks the only way to stop the harassment "is to go to a jury and make a jury stop it."

The court papers also allege Jones pressured McCord to give her money to help build a school in Jamaica.

Friday's's legal action comes days after a report surfaced that an independent investigator appointed by the district in January said that McCord, former superintendent Sherman Roberts and another district employee, Andrew Myones, used invalid doctorates and recommended they be stripped of stipends and forced to repay the district.

The district ceased stipend payments to the three in January. The report says district teachers with a PhD or Ed.D. earn a stipend of $3,375 per year.

The school board hired an independent attorney to conduct the investigation after Jones questioned the three employees' doctoral credentials as part of an audit, the report said.

Roberts said he earned a doctor of philosophy degree from Refreshing Faith Bible College of Woodbine, Ga., in 2007, the report said. McCord and high school science teacher Andrew Myones said they received advanced degrees in 2009 from Rochville University, an online institution based in Texas, according to the report.

Neither Refreshing Faith Bible College nor Rochville University are on the U.S. Department of Education's list of accredited institutions -- the standard for stipend purposes.

Morelli represents Myones, who is also a chiropractor. The attorney disputed the report, saying both his clients have valid advanced degrees from other institutions.

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