Posted: 5:12 pm Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
By Jeff Greer
A Forest Hill High math teacher and former assistant football coach has been charged with two felony counts of falsifying documents and receiving unlawful compensation, the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
Michael Stephen Dudeck, 55, “created false summer-school transcripts that were later provided to school guidance (officers) as documentation for successful completion of summer-school classes so student-athletes could participate in sports” at Dwyer and Forest Hill, the state attorney’s office alleged. Dudeck, who was also the head softball coach at Palm Beach Central this spring, was arrested Tuesday morning by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Dudeck was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Tuesday evening after posting a $6,000 bond.
Dudeck’s cell phone sent all calls directly to voicemail, and Forest Hill head football coach Chris Kokell, who didn’t know Dudeck had been arrested, said Tuesday afternoon that Forest Hill administrators told him Dudeck would not — and could not — be retained as an assistant coach, but did not explain why.
Kokell declined to comment further until he had more information, saying he was surprised at the news of Dudeck’s arrest and that his former assistant was a nice guy. Palm Beach Central Athletic Director Ron Matella was not aware of Dudeck’s arrest, and as of Tuesday afternoon he still considered Dudeck his coach before receiving the news.
The eligibility status of the involved players, whose names were blacked out and classes were not revealed, remains unknown.
Investigators found at least seven transcripts that had been falsified, the probable cause affidavit said, and conducted interviews with several teachers whose names had been listed as employees who worked for Dudeck’s “Knowledge Zone” tutoring company.
Those teachers, Bradley Pess and Robin Smith-House, both of Boynton Beach Charter, told investigators they had never taught or met the students listed on the transcripts in question, despite both teachers’ names being mentioned on the paperwork.
Research by the investigators showed that the student-athletes in question played football for both Dwyer and Forest Hill after receiving credit for summer-school courses they didn’t complete or attend, the probable-cause affidavit said. One athlete told investigators he played “five or six games” before Forest Hill administrators discovered that his transcripts were falsified. That player was asked to the leave the team.
Dudeck allegedly received some $300 from at least one student-athlete in exchange for the falsified documents.
Dudeck has been an active member of the Palm Beach County sports community, coaching softball and football over more than a decade. He coached softball at American Heritage, Lake Worth Christian, North Broward Prep and Spanish River before taking the Palm Beach Central job. He was the head football coach at Pope John Paul II for one season in 2007.