Cedar Rapids, Iowa City school districts terminate consultant

Districts paid nearly $70,000 before ending contracts over resume questions

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The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City school districts have terminated contracts with a California consultant based on reports he misrepresented his education and had not disclosed a federal lawsuit over alleged copyright infringement.

Edwin L. Javius, founder and chief executive officer of EDEquity, based in San Jose, Calif., already has received nearly $39,000 of a $63,000 one-year contract with the Iowa City Community School District, which hired him in June to help with equity efforts, said Kingsley Botchway, district director of equity and staffing.

The Cedar Rapids district has paid Javius $30,000 for a contract signed Jan. 23, 2014, that was expected to be fulfilled by July 1.

Iowa City schools terminated Javius’s contract Thursday afternoon, Botchway said, after learning from the Cedar Rapids school district that Javius had lied in the past about having a doctorate from the University of Southern California.

“In the past, he had not been truthful about his doctorate,” Botchway said. “He also has a previous situation where he plagiarized some work. We didn’t want someone who had misrepresented himself to be continuing with our organization.”

Botchway said he spoke by phone with Javius, who he said acknowledged past written materials had misrepresented his academic record.

The Cedar Rapids school district learned in October 2014 — nine months after hiring Javius — he did not have a doctorate from USC, Deputy Superintendent Mary Ellen Maske said Friday.

“We researched the claim and found that Mr. Javius’ degree from USC was ‘pending,’ ” Maske said in an email. “At that time, the discrepancy did not compromise his credibility or the work he was doing in our district.”

But district officials recently became aware of a Sept. 17, 2014, Facebook post by the Campbell High School Teachers Association in California saying Javius had been terminated as an equity consultant there after district officials learned his listed doctorate was bogus.

“We were also not aware that there was impending litigation, in relation to a copyright violation,” Maske said.

Javius is named in a federal lawsuit by Jeff Gray, a Louisville writer, who asserts Javius lifted portions of Gray’s educational book, “If She Only Knew Me,” for use in Javius’s presentations and website. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, is ongoing, but a Jan. 12 court order vacates upcoming deadlines because of “ongoing settlement negotiations.”

In an email Friday, Javius said he had not lied to the Iowa City school district.

“My termination of the contract had nothing to do with misrepresenting my resume in Iowa City,” he said.

The professional bios he provided to both the Iowa City school district and the Grant Wood Area Education Agency, which recommended him as an equity consultant, said he had “studied urban leadership at University of Southern California.”

Grant Wood AEA doesn’t verify the educational credentials of recommended consultants, spokeswoman Renee Nelson said.

“We do rely on people to be forthcoming with their professional background and credentials,” she said.

Both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City schools do background checks on employees and consultants, but do not regularly verify the accuracy of resumes, officials said.

Despite concerns over Javius’s history, Botchway said he was impressed with the consultant.

“In all honesty, he was doing amazing work,” Botchway said. “He has an ability to use what we were currently doing and add a cultural piece to that.”

The Iowa City school district has an equity plan that calls for adding more minority staff, reducing racial and gender disparities among students, increasing community involvement and providing race- and gender-conscious instruction.

Javius posted on Facebook Feb. 5 about his work with Iowa schools.

“Leaving Iowa again. Had a fabulous week. I finished my day talking w (with) High School students. All the babies (different racial make up) knocked it out of the park. Talking about how schools can engage them.”

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