August 1, 2002 at 7:43 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 9:30 AM
Ben Bennet, a morning talk show host for WBMQ, has always poked fun at the school superintendent, but today he brought up a serious point, stating John O'Sullivan--the superintendent of the county's educational system--misled the people about his own education.
Today is Colonel John O'Sullivan's one-year anniversary with the Savannah-Chatham County School Board. But it's not much of a celebration. Instead, the county's education leader spent most of the day defending his own education.
The school he's defending is the National War College in Washington, DC, which he said is "the number one military school in the world."
O'Sullivan received a diploma from the school in 1987, but here's the problem: on his resume O'Sullivan claims he received his military doctorate from the school, and the school says it has only offered two honorary doctorate degrees ever, one to congressman Ike Skelton and the other to national security advisor Condaleeza Rice.
Though O'Sullivan may have mislabeled his educational background, he says he never misled the board. "I never once said that I have a doctorate," he said. "If you want me to change that, no i'm not going to do that."
O'Sullivan's application for his position as superintendent does state he only received his diploma from the national war college, but that's not what his resume says.
O'Sullivan is not budging on the issue. He says he looks at his diploma from the college as a doctorate degree and says anyone who disagrees with him has political motivations. "If you're asking me if I think I misrepresented anything, the answer to you is no," he insisted.
O'Sullivan stands firm in his belief that going to the prestigious military school is like receiving a doctorate of war. "That's how I see it and I've made it very clear how I deal with it. I'm not going to tell you I feel bad about what I said, I feel clear in my mind that it's the best school, and it was my top school."
School Board president Diane Cantor backs up O'Sullivan, saying he never misled the board over his educational background. "We feel he was completely up front, direct and accurate in his statements to us," she said.
O'Sullivan says the accusations which have surfaced are political, now that a school board election is just around the corner. "I find it interesting this is happening in the beginning of a political season," he noted.
The county's education leader admits if he could start all over, he may have done things differently.
Though his resume says he had a military doctorate, the board says O'Sullivan's application for the superintendent job listed only his diploma from the national war college.
In a less controversial issue for the school board, O'Sullivan signed the paperwork to refund the district's general obligation bonds. The bonds were used for capital projects and now that they are being refinanced. They will get a better interest rate of just over four percent.