Former Limestone County Schools superintendent under investigation in Tennessee for fake PhD

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – After concerned community members came forward, Tom Sisk is now under investigation for misrepresenting his purported PhD in Numismatics, which is the study of coins and currency.

Sisk left Limestone County Schools in September of 2019. The district has not found his replacement.

Sisk went by Dr. Sisk while at Limestone, the website still lists that in his bio. However, the PhD is not from an accredited university. The “degree” is from Ashwood University, a well known online diploma mill based in Pakistan.

The website offers “life experience degrees” at a cost.

Prior to a school board meeting Monday night, Sisk told reporters that he had no clue his PhD was not valid. He claims his mentors, who are now deceased, filed for the diploma on his behalf. A WHNT investigation into the deceased found the men had no link to an accredited university.

During the meeting, school board chair Nelson Pyle read a statement saying in part: “Once the board has our attorney’s investigative report and recommended actions, we will reconvene and address the director’s future with Bristol Tennessee City Schools.”

Pyle previously defended Sisk and said he was not hired for his doctorate.

One speaker took the stand during public comment saying, “Mr. Sisk is referred to consistently in his contract as Dr. Sisk.”

One student said she was upset the district initially considered this backlash a “distraction.”

“Well, I won’t be here next week. I’ll get my diploma tomorrow. I’ll get my PhD tomorrow. I’ll get my everything tomorrow from this website,” said the student who appeared to mock Sisk.

Sisk did not answer complaints or questions directly. He went into detail about his experiences, deflecting any concern about the purported PhD.

“That is leadership ladies and gentlemen. That is experience. You may like it or dislike it. I can’t control that. All I can tell you is that I have a heart for kids,” said Sisk.

One teacher who also represents the teachers union took the stand during public comment.

“If the leaders of this community don’t represent themselves properly, then how are we expected for that individual to represent us properly,” said the teacher.

Both the Bristol and Limestone school districts say they hired Sisk without considering his purported PhD. Bristol says it did not factor into his salary.

A Sullivan County Commissioner says it’s not normal practice in Bristol for the superintendent to not have an education doctorate.

WHNT will let you know what happens next.

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