While the members of Pittsburg High School’s student newspaper staff received national attention for uncovering discrepancies of a newly hired principal’s resume, back home they dealt with a less than supportive community and school district, said Emily Smith, adviser for the student newspaper.

“I would say some people were really supportive, and they think it was great and they support the kids,” Smith said Monday at the Flint Hills Publications Workshop, a high school journalism camp at K-State. “Most people were really mad because they said we made everyone look really bad.”

In March, the Pittsburg Community Schools board of education hired Amy Robertson as the high school’s new principal and the Booster Redux newspaper staff began working on a introductory story about her. But during the process, the students uncovered several discrepancies with Robertson’s resume.

Robertson, who said she was working as an education consultant in United Arab Emirates, listed Corllins University as the institution where she received her degrees. When the students looked into the university, they could not find any concrete evidence that it existed or that it was an accredited institution.

The newspaper staff also found Robertson was not a licensed educator, which is required to be a principal in Kansas, according to the Kansas City Star.

Uncovering the story forced Robertson to resign shortly after accepting the position. The Pittsburg school board then asked the Kansas Association of School Boards to help find a new principal.

The students’ work became a national sensation, with outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and CBS News reporting the story.

In a statement, the board admitted its hiring process had failed, according to the Kansas City Star report. In the same statement, the board thanked the journalists for uncovering the story, but Smith said the students did not feel support outside of the national attention.

Before the students published the story, they were worried about the potential backlash and Smith, a K-State graduate, told the students they didn’t have to print the story if they were not comfortable.

“I said, ‘This is probably going to be the hardest thing you do in your life because you’re doing the right thing and it’s not always easy and it’s not always popular,’” Smith said.

Some teachers in the building were vocal of their displeasure with the story, while one said the paper is “hogwash,” Smith said.

“You have people openly trashing our program,” she said. “We certainly didn’t expect or want the (national) response that we got.”

While the school district said in the statement it supported the students, it never mentioned the journalists were invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner or the national coverage celebrating their tenacity.

“That sent a huge message to the teachers and the community that they did not support us,” Smith said. “It’s really weird, because we didn’t even want to go out in public because people were mad at us and they still are.”

Although the story was tough to report and the community was not supportive, Smith told the high school campers that their reporting still matters.

According to the Wichita Eagle, Pittsburg Superintendent Destry Brown attempted to smooth things over with the students and thanked them for their work to uncover the story.

But even if they had not “the house of cards would have fallen,” he said.

The sequence of events left several audience members with lingering questions.

Smith said there has not been a lot of continued investigation into the situation because it seems the local and regional media are no longer interested. She said some people have asked what the student journalists are going to do next.

Smith said she knows her students are capable of looking into the story, but decided they had done enough.

“We could have gone after that angle, but I really don’t feel like it’s my kids’ place to go find personal dirt,” she said. “To me it’s going to look like a vendetta.

“I keep hoping somebody is going to be curious enough to try to find out,” she added. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”

Dylan Lysen is the education reporter for the Manhattan Mercury. Follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen and on Facebook @DylanLysenNews.