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School board members respond to claims that official has no doctorate

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Richmond school board member Dr. Derrick Jones says public officials have to expect that  in public service your life becomes an open book and the public has a right to expect transparency and openness.

"It's critical that what we ask of others we also ask of ourselves," said Jones.

Jones is responding to the Wednesday night report surrounding the doctorate degree his fellow board member, Shonda Harris-Muhammed claims to have.

"Obviously the story raised some discrepancies for lack of a better word and I'm hopeful that going forward we can get those cleared up," said Jones.

The report highlighted conflicting information about whether Harris-Muhammed, who is called doctor by her colleagues, has earned the degree attached to that title. The listed dates for degree completion on Harris Muhammed's online accounts didn't match the 2012 date she told CBS 6 in person.

Additionally, Walden University, where she claims her degree was earned told CBS 6 repeatedly that they have no record of any doctoral degree completion for Harris-Muhammed.

"There's no third answer here, it's either you have a doctorate degree and the right to call yourself doctor or you don't," said political watchdog Paul Goldman.

Goldman notes that seven of the nine current school board members are new and that's because Richmonders wanted change.

"This group was elected as the reform school board one of the reforms was supposed to be transparency,” said Goldman.

Jones agrees that he and many of his colleagues, including Harris-Muhammed, ran on that principle.

"I'm just hopeful we can get over this hump, the facts can be clear and transparent, I hope that day comes soon," said Jones.

Goldman advises sooner than later.

"They need to clean up this mess, it isn't just hers, she's one of the members," said Goldman.