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Council Hopeful Took No Classes for Degrees

By Sean Olson
Copyright 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
    City Council candidate Paulette de'Pascal claims she has a B.S. and an M.B.A., but she acknowledged Tuesday that she never took any classes for either degree.
    The degrees de'Pascal listed as part of her education in a Journal questionnaire were obtained through Almeda University, an online university that gives clients credit for "life experience."
    De'Pascal listed other educational programs on the questionnaire but acknowledged she didn't complete all of them.
    De'Pascal said focusing on her education instead of district issues were "distractions" that should not be issues in the race.
    "You show me someone who doesn't have skeletons in their closet. That person is a saint," she said Tuesday. "The real question should be, 'Who's the best person for this job?' ''
    The Almeda Web site says the university is accredited by several institutions but warns those seeking a degree that it might not be recognized by some employers and schools.
    It costs about $500 for a "prior learning" assessment based on "life experience" toward a bachelor's or master's degree, according to the school's Web site.
    Tuition fluctuates, depending on the degree sought, the school's Web site says. The cost listed for a doctorate of theology is $1,500.
    All degrees come on low-acidic paper suitable for framing with no transcript mention of online or distance learning, the Web site says.
    Almeda is not accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Degrees from the institution are "not legal for academic or business uses" in Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, New Jersey and Oregon, according to a report from the Better Business Bureau's southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon office.
    De'Pascal said she received a certificate of completion for a summer program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, in California.
    She also lists two Technical Vocational Institute— now known as Central New Mexico Community College— nursing programs on the Journal questionnaire.
    De'Pascal said she dropped out of a licensed nurse practitioner program at TVI about six months before finishing, although she makes no mention of the incompleted course in the questionnaire.
    De'Pascal said she did finish a certified nursing assistant program at TVI. She said she did not recall when but said it was "many years ago."
    De'Pascal declined to answer other questions about her education.
    In a deposition taken in 2000 in a state District Court civil case, de'Pascal told attorneys she dropped out of a nursing program at TVI. She made no mention of completing a separate nursing course.
    De'Pascal is challenging incumbent Brad Winter for the District 4 City Council seat in the Far Northeast Heights.
    The election is Oct. 2.
    Winter said it was "disingenuous" for de'Pascal to claim she had a master's degree.
    "Why would you put something like that in (a questionnaire)?" Winter asked.
    "I mean, people find out about that kind of thing."
    Other education listed in de'Pascal's questionnaire included graduating from St. Joseph High School in New York state and completing a course at the New Mexico Real Estate Institute, which she has to re-certify every three years.