Dazhon Darien, who’s accused of impersonating a principal with artificial intelligence, found his way into Baltimore County Public Schools with a litany of fake credentials and false qualifications.

The former Pikesville High School athletic director applied to the school system using résumés riddled with claims that are either questionable or untrue. He didn’t get degrees he claims to hold. He never worked for a Division I college football team. He didn’t have a teaching license or meet the minimum qualifications for his job.

Baltimore County Public Schools still hired him, seemingly unaware of the lies.

The falsehoods appear to be part of a pattern by Darien, 31. A Baltimore Banner investigation found at least 29 false claims on four job applications using two different names. The records, obtained through public information requests and a source close to the Baltimore County school system, show at least eight high schools and colleges in five states let him in the door. He was repeatedly put in a position of power over teens and young adults, some of whom said that Darien treated them poorly.

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Through his attorney, Darien declined to comment.

Thomas Morrow said in an email that it is not the obligation or intention of his client “to respond to multiple interrogatories submitted by the press. He respectfully declines an interview at this time and will reserve his comments for an appropriate forum.”

Darien had a habit of claiming he held jobs for several years when in reality he lasted just a few months. He lasted less than a year at Pikesville High School, where Baltimore County Police allege he led the public to believe Principal Eric Eiswert made racist and antisemitic comments. Authorities last month accused Darien of using AI to fake a recording in retaliation after the principal initiated an investigation into allegations Darien made improper payments to a coach, according to court documents. He is charged with disrupting school activities, theft, retaliating against a witness and stalking. Darien is scheduled to appear back in court on June 11.

Superintendent Myriam Rogers has said school system officials are recommending Darien’s termination.

Dazhon Darien began the school year as athletic director at Pikesville High School in Baltimore County.

Gboyinde Onijala, a spokesperson for Baltimore County Public Schools, said in an email that all protocols were followed when hiring Darien. The hiring process, she said, includes a criminal background check and fingerprinting as well as reviewing transcripts and references. Onijala said she was unable to provide personnel information on a specific employee.

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The school system also denied public records requests related to its investigation of Darien, citing personnel privacy laws.

However, a source with knowledge of the hiring process said Darien submitted two résumés to the school system that included 16 claims The Banner found to be false. The Banner reviewed the résumés, which are titled with the name Darien Spaulding but list a phone number that belongs to Dazhon Darien, according to court documents.

The résumés were submitted, the source said, alongside a document claiming Darien held a “preliminary single subject teaching credential” from California. But the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing said he had applied for a teaching certificate that was never granted.

Before Darien became Pikesville’s athletic director, where he made over $76,500, he was at Randallstown High School for several weeks last spring as a social studies teacher, a job that requires a Maryland teaching certificate. He didn’t have that either, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Department of Education said in an email. He didn’t even have a conditional certification, a temporary credential for teachers who are pursuing licensure while teaching. It’s unclear whether Darien ever claimed to have a Maryland teaching certificate.

Baltimore County Public Schools declined an interview request. Onijala said in an email that Darien is on administrative leave, that the school system is taking appropriate personnel action and that it is committed to following the hiring process “to ensure we hire highly-qualified candidates to be a part of our workforce.”

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On top of a teaching license, the minimum qualifications for a Baltimore County school athletic director include a bachelor’s degree along with either a master’s degree in athletic administration or a Registered Athletic Administrator certificate.

Dazhon Leslie Darien
Darien is accused of using artificial intelligence to frame the principal of Pikesville High School for racist comments.

One résumé Darien submitted to Baltimore County claimed he had those qualifications. He didn’t.

The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association said in an email that Darien purchased an application for the certification a year ago but never submitted it.

The master’s degree Darien claimed he earned from Southern New Hampshire University in 2013 doesn’t exist. The institution said Darien enrolled online in 2016 but never participated in any courses and was withdrawn from the program later that year.

And Langston University officials told The Banner he didn’t graduate from the institution, where he claimed he earned his bachelor’s degree in history education and a master’s degree in educational leadership.

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Both résumés, one focused on education and the other on athletics, are filled with inaccuracies and conflicting claims. Darien listed membership in at least two professional associations that have no record of him. On one reésumé he claimed to have held a high school football coaching job in Texas at the same time the other résumé said he was a dean of student engagement at a college in Indiana.

He even claimed to have been a defensive analyst for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, a Division I football team that’s won five national championships. The college has no record of Darien working there.

Baltimore County Public Schools declined to explain how its hiring process missed so many red flags.

The school system’s human resource office has faced scrutiny in recent years. Retirees were overcharged or undercharged for their health benefits, pay was once withheld from teachers and the former head of the office is suing the school system over a wrongful termination allegation. In the lawsuit, Shiria Anderson accused school system leaders of retaliating against her for refusing to offer a higher salary to a job applicant who is related to the chief of staff. The school system has previously declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Three other job applications obtained through public records requests list somewhat different credentials, more than a dozen of which The Banner found to be false.

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“I have a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on Higher Education Student Affairs; as such I exceed the qualifications necessary to lead the activities program and strategically enhance the student experience,” Darien wrote in a cover letter to Texas Southern University in Houston in 2018. That application claimed the degree was from Southern New Hampshire, where he didn’t graduate.

Texas Southern hired Darien as an enrollment and completion adviser in June 2018. He was fired that September.

On a 2018 application for a job as director of student life at Colorado Mesa University, Darien claimed to have experience as Los Angeles Southwest College’s interim dean of student services between July 2016 and January 2018.

But an official from Los Angeles Community College District, the system that includes Southwest, said Darien wasn’t hired until 2019 and didn’t have that job. He was in the system’s adjunct instructor pool but didn’t teach any courses.

Darien was fired from Colorado Mesa after three months on the job, according to university personnel records.

In an application to Florida’s Pinellas County Schools in 2015, Darien claimed to have earned an associate’s degree from California’s Santa Barbara City College in education in December 2014. But the college said he attended in 2011 and did not complete his degree.

Pinellas County schools personnel records show he left his job as a paraprofessional with the school system less than two months after he applied.

In a form asking him to state the cause for his resignation, Darien wrote, “Personal reasons.”

Baltimore Banner reporters Justin Fenton and Liz Bowie contributed to this article.

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