For Immediate Release - August 24, 2010

Former Springfield Assistant Principal Arraigned in Connection with Falsifying Her Teaching Certificate

SPRINGFIELD/NORTHAMPTON - A Springfield woman was arraigned in Hampden Superior Court in connection with falsifying teaching certificates for the purposes of obtaining employment and teaching in the Massachusetts public school system, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. Deborah Benoit, age 60, was charged with Larceny over $250. Benoit was also arraigned today in Hampshire Superior Court on charges of Larceny over $250 and Uttering a False or Forged Record.

In order to teach in Massachusetts an individual must obtain a teaching license by passing the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL), hold a Bachelor's degree, and complete an approved educator preparatory program. Each license issued in Massachusetts has a unique number.

According to authorities, in the summer of 2001 Benoit applied for the position of Assistant Principal at Central High School in Springfield. In August 2001, based on her representations of education, which included a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, and licensure, Benoit was hired as Assistant Principal, a position that she held until her resignation in August 2006. According to authorities, following her resignation Benoit was hired as the principal of the Ware Middle School, where she served from August 2006 until her resignation in April 2009.

In the spring of 2008, in compliance with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), a record check was performed on Benoit's teacher's license information. According to authorities, an investigation on the license number provided in Benoit's file did not match her personal information and was assigned to another individual in Massachusetts. Further investigation revealed that Benoit did not actually attend the two schools from which she claimed to have earned her master's degrees. A search of records of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure also revealed that Benoit never applied for a teaching license in Massachusetts.

Hampden County and Hampshire County Grand Juries returned indictments against Benoit on July 27, 2010. Today, Benoit was arraigned in Hampden Superior Court and Hampshire Superior Court at which time she entered pleas of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Benoit is due back in Hampden Superior Court on November 9, 2010, for a pre-trial hearing and is due back in Hampshire Superior Court on November 9, 2010, for a pre-trial hearing. Hampden Superior Court Judge Tina Page and Hampshire Superior Court Judge Judd Carhart presided over the arraignments.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Adreani for AG Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division, with assistance from Paul Stewart, Director of Financial Investigations, financial investigator Jennifer Chaves, and the DESE.