It was disturbing to hear that Dazhon Darien, Pikesville High School’s former athletic director, found his way into schools with false resumes, said Izzy Patoka, Baltimore County Council chairman.

So disturbing, the chairman said, that the county government needs to step in.

“While Baltimore County Public Schools has its responsibilities to educate children, the families, they live in our districts,” Patoka said. Any staff members near students “need to be vetted carefully” so this doesn’t happen again, he said.

A Baltimore Banner investigation found that Darien, who police accused of using artificial intelligence to impersonate a principal, made at least 29 false claims on four job applications using two different names. In two resumes he submitted for jobs at Baltimore County schools, there were 16 claims The Banner found to be false.

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A school system official has said all the hiring protocols were followed; those include a background check and fingerprinting as well as checking transcripts and references. However, county leaders remain skeptical. They question the integrity of the schools’ hiring process and wonder who else slipped in under false pretenses.

Baltimore County Public Schools declined an interview request. In a statement last week, the system said it was committed to hiring highly qualified candidates.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a statement that he’s confident Superintendent Myriam Rogers will make any needed corrections.

“This is a clear case of an individual willing to fabricate anything — including his own qualifications — and to go considerable lengths to do so,” he said. “This incident is concerning and reinforces the need for all public organizations to take a comprehensive look into hiring practices to ensure all appropriate steps are being taken to prevent this type of application fraud.”

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Darien, 31, spent several weeks working as a social studies teacher at Randallstown High School last spring before he came to Pikesville High in the fall. He was hired without a Maryland teaching certificate, a requirement for public school teachers, and didn’t have the bachelor’s degree he claimed to hold.

Through his attorney, Darien declined to comment.

Danita Tolson, president of Baltimore County’s NAACP chapter, questioned what Darien could have taught students while he was at Randallstown. That time could have led to gaps in students’ education, she said.

This isn’t an era where employers can simply take the word of applicants, Tolson said. The school system may need to double-check the credentials of current employees, she suggested.

“If you said he’s done his background checks ... then how did he fall through the cracks and how many others have fallen through the cracks?” she asked.

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Ryan Coleman, president of the Randallstown NAACP, noted that not only did Darien’s hire have a terrible impact on the school and community but also on the principal he’s accused of impersonating. Audio purported to be Principal Eric Eiswert’s voice circulated on social media in January, leading the public to believe he’d been caught making racist and antisemitic comments. Eiswert has denied making those remarks. He was removed as principal and endured harassment and threats that led to a police presence at his home, according to his union representative.

Billy Burke, head of the Council of Administrative & Supervisory Employees, said he was disappointed to learn that Darien’s resumes had inaccuracies and falsehoods.

“I think HR needs to review their practices especially around the review of applications and make sure that an error like this doesn’t happen,” Burke said.

Coleman hopes the school system does an internal investigation to determine “where the ball was dropped.”

“The next question is, did they miss anything else? Is there anything in his background that says he shouldn’t be around children?” Coleman asked.

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The whole thing has made Coleman worried about public education overall. Students need better role models, he said, and student achievement needs to be improved. He’s optimistic that Rogers can “right the ship” and put the focus back on academics.

Rogers said at a press conference that school system officials are recommending Darien’s termination. Darien is currently on administrative leave, and is due back in court June 11.

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