Umar Johnson, the “certified school psychologist” who may or may not have the credentials to call himself a doctor of psychology, was forced to defend his professional legitimacy during a Pennsylvania state hearing on Monday morning.
The man who some claim accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for the construction of a school that may never get built was accused of practicing psychology without a state license. If he is found guilty, the Philadelphia area educator could reportedly be fined $10,000 for each violation.
Pennsylvania’s State Board of Psychology introduced a past interview that Johnson did with various news outlets, including one with “The Breakfast Club” nationally syndicated morning radio show where he directly referred to himself as “a psychologist.”
But Johnson was clearly prepared while it appeared the state was not. The discrepancy was merely a case of semantics, Johnson said.
“I understand that it’s the state’s intent to say that every time I refer to myself as a psychologist that I am practicing beyond the limits or holding myself as something I am not,” he explained calmly. “… whenever I get interviewed, I always state specifically what I am – a certified school psychologist and doctor of clinical psychology.”
He continued: “Thereafter, I may refer to myself as a psychologist in conversation, but there is never a time when my credentials are not stated forthright,” he said pointing to the same “Breakfast Club” interview the board was trying to use against him.
That exchange followed an awkward minute or so of silence as the lone unidentified state board representative stalled at several points to gather himself and his thoughts, prompting Johnson to lean back in his seat and crack a smile in apparent glee.
Footage of the entire exchange, as well as a subsequent Q&A session, were live streamed courtesy of the Facebook account of journalist Doshon Farad. (We’re not exactly sure how legal it is for a spectator to video an official state proceeding, but that’s a different story…)
For your viewing pleasure, take a look at all of the videos and let us know if you think Johnson deserves the benefit of the doubt.