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WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A former student-athlete is speaking out after one of his football coaches was arrested and charged with falsifying school transcripts, so those athletes would be appear academically-eligible to play sports.
Investigators from the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office say that Michael Stephen Dudeck, 55, a former Forest Hill Community High School Assistant Coach, created false summer school transcripts for several student athletes through The Knowledge Zone, a testing and tutoring program that authorities say, Dudeck was running.
A young man who says he was one of those student-athletes spoke exclusively with Fox 29, opting not to reveal his name publicly. "I thought it was a big advantage, a big help, so I didn't know anything," he said. "I just wanted to get my grades up and play football."
Authorities say Dudeck sent the falsified documents to school guidance counselors at Forest Hill and Dwyer High Schools so that those football players would appear academically eligible to play in the fall of 2011.
One of those guidance counselors contacted the Palm Beach County School District because the documents were filed on the with a letterhead, school code and instructor names from Lake Worth Christian School investigators said. The Christian school and named teachers were interviewed by investigators and said they had never tutored any of the student-athletes in question.
One of the football players said to be involved said Dudeck instructed him to take courses and tests online, which he did. The student said that Dudeck assured him 'not to worry' about failing grades and that he would have the documentation to play sports.
"To this day I have not been back on the football field because of that," the student-athlete said. "Right now, I'm just currently working on my grades to get back on the football field legally, not illegally, legally. Because if I knew everything, I would not ever have taken his class," he said. That player said he was pulled from the Forest Hill football team after about five games during the 2011 season by his head coach, Chris Kokell.
Another student, believed to have been playing at Dwyer with falsified transcripts, played through the 2011 football season.
In addition to coaching at Forest Hill, Dudeck was said to be a teacher during the 2011-2012 school year. Fox 29 has reached out to the Palm Beach County School District for comment and for information on Dudeck's current standing with the district. The district has yet to respond to those requests.
A woman who answered the telephone at Dudeck's Delray Beach residence said Dudeck had 'no comment'.