Last spring, Isthmus reported that Dane County family court counselor Sharon Koski apparently avoided consequences for misrepresenting her professional credentials ("Authorities Fine with Fibbing," 5/15/09). This was based on the refusal of state authorities to act and public statements from Koski's boss, Family Court Counseling Service director Kristen Ryan, that she considered the matter "closed."
Though no one corrected us, that wasn't the case.
According to documents released in response to an open records request, Koski received a formal letter of reprimand on April 23, 2009. The reprimand, obtained last week by lawyers representing an aggrieved client, was issued by Ryan.
The reprimand says Koski's claim to be a licensed family and marriage counselor and her "misuse" of this credential on her business card, reports and correspondence violated several work rules, including "falsifying records" and "failure to use good judgment."
Ryan's letter includes Koski's defense - that she did not read to the end of an email from a state regulator that barred her from using this credential. "I do not believe that you intended to mislead anyone," wrote Ryan. "I do believe that you were careless."
And how. The letter also documents that Koski provided the county with inaccurate information about "the schools you attended, the degrees you received, and the dates of employment you listed for past positions." This included a claim that she graduated from a university she never attended. (Koski's claim was that she attended a school that closed, and that her records were located at the university she claimed to have attended.)
Koski was ordered to stop misrepresenting her credentials and to meet regularly with Ryan. She also got a scolding: "Your conduct has called into question not only your credibility but the credibility of the Family Court Counseling Service."
Joe Kuemmel, a Madison attorney who initially called Koski's credentials into question ("Watchdog," 11/27/08), says Koski "engaged in deception to get her job and continued that deception up until she was caught." He thinks it's "amazing" that she's still employed: "How did this woman keep her job?"
Ryan's letter praises Koski as being "competent and skilled" as well as "honest and accountable" in most of her dealings. And it says Koski's "official school transcripts" were ultimately provided, but these were not released in response to the records request. Kuemmel and others are now seeking these transcripts, to see for themselves.