In Defense of Dr. Umar Johnson's Credentials

Over the years Dr. Umar Johnson has become one of the most controversial figures within the African American community. Some of the criticisms of him have been warranted, but much of the criticisms against him have also been attempts to discredit him by spreading falsehoods about him. For example, Michael Harriot suggested that Umar Johnson was lying about having a doctorate, only to later apologize and admit that he was wrong. Given the misinformation that has been spread about Umar, the purpose of this article is to clear up some of the misconceptions that people have about Umar Johnson’s credentials, especially in regards to his upcoming hearing.

The following information is quoted from a document that Anne' McMillion sent to the Philadelphia State Board of Education. In this document McMillion explains that the purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not Dr. Umar Johnson “violated Section 3 of the Act, 63 P.S. 1203, in that the Respondent engaged in the practice of psychology or offered or attempted to do so or held himself out to the public by any title or description of services Incorporated the words ‘psychology,’ ‘psychological’ or ‘psychologist.’” McMillion explains:

1. Does the (“Respondent”) Umar Johnson have the legal right by PA Board of Psychology (“Board”) to identify, reference, work (psycho-educational evaluations and psychological counseling), educate the public and charter schools, and general public as a psychologist?
Respondent: is a “Certified School Psychologist” with “certifications" under the PA Department of Education, which Board of Psychology Licensure Office have “legally” & “ethically" exempted Dr. Umar Johnson from needing a “general” psychology license to practice psychology outside of any public or charter school. Professional Psychologist Practice Act, section 3 “Necessity of License” line:(4, 6, and 10) of the Act. 63 P.S.1203, Chapter 41 State Board of Psychology “Miscellaneous”; PA Code 41.56 (private practice by “certified school psychologist”)
2. Does the (“Respondent”) Umar Johnson possess any “degrees” in Psychology and/or any Specialist educational degree in Psychology to reference, title, or use the description of services incorporated with the words of “psychology,” psychological” or “psychologist?”
Respondent: Specialist Psychology degree with a MBA & Doctorate (Clinical Psychology) allow Dr. Umar Johnson to increase his educational background to speak, title, or use the description of services incorporated with the words of “psychology,” “psychological,” or “psychologist” in an educational structure setting (seminars, conferences, workshops, speaker, etc….)
a. graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (7/31/2009) with MBA in Clinical Psychology
b. continued graduate education with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to receive his Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology (11/14/2012)
3. Does the (“Respondent”) Umar Johnson possess any “certifications” in the State of Pennsylvania to legally allow the reference, title, or description of services incorporated with the words of “psychology,” “psychological” or “psychologist?”
Respondent: Under the Department of Education Dr. Johnson has been issued certifications, issue dates, continuing educational status, and credentials status to legally practice. Dr. Johnson is in FULL compliance with Department of Education whom he is able to work privately and unlicensed in the State of Pennsylvania. This is inclusive to legally referencing himself as a “Certified” School Psychologist. PA Code 41.56 “Private Practice by “Certified School Psychologist” Dr. Johnson’s certifications are: *Educational Specialist II School Psychologist PK-12 (1875); Issued (3/1/2008); Continuing Education Status: (active); Credential Status: Valid *Educational Specialist I School Psychologist PK-12 (1875); Issued (6/1/2001); Continuing Education Status: (active); Credentials Status: Converted. Reference: Pennsylvania Department of Education, TIMS/Educator Profile, www.teachercertificate.pa.gov
4. Does the (“Respondent”) Umar Johnson have legal right to professionally and educationally speak, educate, to the general public as a Psychologist?
Respondent: Yes, Dr. Johnson has received his Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, and Certification as a School Psychologist. Clinical Psychology from an educational position which by law does not hinder any graduate student to speak, educate, research, or develop educational think tanks (workshops)to further the research in his chosen profession. It only denies Dr. Johnson from practicing clinical sessions with any patient that is not in relations with “Certified School Psychology.” Professional Psychologist Practice Act, section 3 “Necessity of License” line: (4, 6, and 10) of the Act. 63 P.S.1203.2(2)), Chapter 41 State Board of Psychology “Miscellaneous”; PA Code 41.56 (private practice by “certified school psychologist”)
5. Does the State of Pennsylvania Board of Psychology allow “graduate” Psychologist, who are unlicensed to practice in the state?
Respondent: Yes, Department of Education in conjunction with the Board of Psychology licensure office has allowed “Certificated School Psychologist” to engage in private practice outside of the school environment. “School Psychologist” with SEA credential can provide services in public schools (K- 12) early childhood and pre-K settings and private and charter schools. The SEA credential also allows one to provide “contract” services in schools. Pennsylvania currently permit “school psychologist” “certified” through the Department of Education. This only applies to those “schools psychologist” currently in practice in the Commonwealth who are in good standing and those enrolled in school psychology training program before June 30th 2018. Additionally “school psychologist” must be employed as “school psychologist” in a public school in order to provide private practice services this licensure exemption will be eliminated for those entering the field after June 30th 2018.
SEA website: www.education.state.pa.us, SEA documents:http://www.education.pa.gov/TeachersAdministrators/Certifications/Pages/default.aspx#.Vg00pbQRWB4,
Psychology Board website:
www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter41/chap41toc.html ,
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter41/s41.56.html

To sum up the information above, Umar is a certified psychologist and therefore meets the requirements necessary to legally conduct his practice as a school psychologist. Contrary to what some are reporting, Umar is not being investigated over his psychology license. He does not have a license nor does he profess to have one. The bio on his website explains: “Dr. Umar Johnson is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and Certified School Psychologist who is considered an expert on the education and mental health of Afrikan and Afrikan-American children.” For those who are also curious about Umar’s certification, below is a list of his certifications:

*Administrative | Principal PK-12 (1115); Issued (8/1/2008); Continuing Education Status (active); Credentials Status: Valid for 5 years of service
*Educational Specialist II School Psychologist PK-12 (1875); Issued (3/1/2008); Continuing Education Status (active); Credential Status: Valid
*Educational Specialist I School Psychologist PK-12 (1875); Issued (6/1/2001); Continuing Education Status (active); Credentials Status: Converted

The hearing will be held on January 8 and it is my hope that the information presented above helps to give readers a better understanding of some of the charges that are being leveled against Dr. Umar Johnson, as well as Umar’s defense against these charges.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook.

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