Michael Dudeck, a former Florida high school assistant football coach and teacher, was arrested Tuesday morning for allegedly falsifying transcripts in order to allow students to play varsity football who otherwise would have been ineligible.
Investigators from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office say that Dudeck, 55, created false summer school transcripts for several student-athletes through The Knowledge Zone, a testing and tutoring program that Dudeck operates, WPTV reports. He sent those falsified documents to guidance counselors at Forest Hill and William Dwyer High Schools so that those football players would appear academically eligible to play in the fall of 2011.
According to WPTV, a guidance counselor contacted the Palm Beach County School District because the paperwork was filed on a letterhead from another school. Both the school and named teachers said they had never tutored any of the student-athletes in question.
The Palm Beach Post reports that investigators found at least seven transcripts that had been falsified, according to the probable cause affidavit.
One of the football players involved in the scandal told investigators that Dudeck instructed him to take courses and tests online. The student said Dudeck assured him “not to worry” about failing grades, and that he would have the necessary documentation to play sports. That student played a handful of games before administrators discovered his transcripts were falsified and asked him to leave the team, while another athlete played the entire season.
"To this day I have not been back on the football field because of that," the first student-athlete told WFLX. "Right now, I'm just currently working on my grades to get back on the football field legally, not illegally, legally. Because if I knew everything, I would not ever have taken his class."
Dudeck allegedly received $300 from at least one student-athlete in exchange for the falsified transcript, according to the probable cause affidavit. He has been charged with two felony counts of falsifying documents and is receiving unlawful compensation.
The former Forest Hill math teacher was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Tuesday evening after posting a $6,000 bond.
A similar incident rocked the Long Island district of South Country Central Schools in March, when Joe Cipp, Jr. resigned as superintendent over an alleged grade-fixing scandal that earned a former student an NCAA scholarship to Syracuse University.
Cipp's resignation came after a months-long investigation into allegations that the former football coach had pressured Bellport High School officials to increase all-state lineman Ryan Sloan's math grades so the student would be eligible for a full athletic scholarship to $52,000-a-year Syracuse.
Former Bellport Principal O'Connell said he was fired for refusing to inflate Sloan's grades, though the student's senior algebra grade was later changed from an F to a D, and his sophomore algebra and junior geometry grades were both changed from Ds to Cs.