Posted: 6:31 am Saturday, October 6th, 2012

FHSAA: Dwyer loses appeal in transcript forgery case 

By Jeff Greer

Updated Monday, Oct. 8, at 11 a.m.

Dwyer appealed Friday a Florida High School Athletic Association ruling that the school’s football team must forfeit each of its 2011 victories for using an ineligible player, but the verdict stayed firm.

FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said Friday afternoon Dwyer’s 2011 season would remain vacated as punishment for playing a student-athlete who used forged summer-school transcripts to gain eligibility. The case, a spin-off part of the felony charges against former Forest Hill assistant football coach and teacher Michael Dudeck, stunned Palm Beach County school officials and frustrated Dwyer’s administration, which maintained that it took all the steps necessary to avoid wrongdoing once it realized it was using the ineligible player.

The eligibility of the player in question, Onterio Rouse, now a senior on Dwyer’s team, has been reinstated, Sobers said. He had been practicing with the team this fall while the FHSAA reviewed the case.

Dwyer won 12 games in 2011, reaching the state semifinals before losing to Bradenton-Manatee, the eventual state champ. Rouse was a regular contributor to that team, but the school self-reported the potential violation when it discovered the questionable transcripts.

The following is from our original report in September, when we reported Dwyer would vacate its wins:

Daniels said he became aware of Rouse’s academic issues early in the summer of 2011, following his transfer from Palm Beach Gardens High to Dwyer. Daniels advised Rouse to improve his grades by taking summer courses. In the following weeks, Daniels said, Rouse informed him he was on track.

In Aug. 2011, Daniels said, a Dwyer guidance counselor informed him of a potential issue with Rouse’s summer transcript, which bore a Lake Worth Christian logo. They showed the transcript to then-Principal Joseph Lee, who also questioned the document’s construction.

“He said, ‘It looks like it was cut-and-pasted,’ ” Daniels said.

Lee ruled Rouse ineligible, then contacted the Palm Beach County School District for further clarification.

“They said until we know if it’s real or fake, err on the side of the child,” said Lee, who in May was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Safety, Culture and Learning Environment. “We did the right thing. I think the district did the right thing.”