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DVC Grade Scandal, Lawmakers and Michael Scott

By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 at 9:50 am in Other.

It was a relatively quiet summer on the schools front – school administrators were too busy fretting over funding uncertainties to dabble in much of anything else while they waited for our state legislators and governor to agree on a budget … 90 days after the state-mandated deadline and long after schools had to hire new teachers and order new books. Instead of hashing out a workable deal to keep the state running, lawmakers were frothing around with things like AB 1754, the bill inspired by the DVC grading scandal. That bill, by the way, was vetoed by the governor on Sunday.

As you may recall, dozens of students working in the Diablo Valley College administration office were making money on the side by changing people’s grades. The college hushed it up for an entire year and finally ‘fessed up. Times reporter Matt Krupnick says “nearly all the ringleaders of the financial side of the scheme have pleaded guilty and served time.” The suspect whose acquittal made headlines last month had been accused of having his own deal going – changing his own grades and those of friends. He was acquitted, the jury said, because DVC’s records office was so chaotic, no one could prove who had changed what.

Some 90 staffers, including students, were authorized to change grades in the Contra Costa College district, which includes DVC and two other campuses, so we’re talking 30 individuals per school who could merrily log on and swap As for Ds.

Everyone was aghast. And lawmakers, who are fond of charging into full bill-writing mode instead of using the laws they’ve already got, spent the summer trying to get a law passed that would require the state chancellor, who oversees California’s 109 community colleges, to come up with a model grading policy for all the schools.

Considering that existing law is perfectly clear – grades are final, unless there has been “a mistake, fraud, bad faith or incompetence” – we’re not sure what more a model grade changing policy might include other than, “don’t let 30 people run around with unfettered access, exchanging grades for cash.” And we’re reminded of that scene on “The Office” when Michael Scott discovers that his girlfriend Jan has been stepping out. In the line of the evening he wails, “You cheated on me? When I specifically told you not to?”

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