Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Schoolteachers among Southern University's Grade-Buyers, Auditor's Report Finds

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Schoolteachers among Southern University's Grade-Buyers, Auditor's Report Finds

Article excerpt

BATON ROUGE, LA.

After a lengthy investigation, the Louisiana state legislative auditor has determined that at least 25 people illegally purchased grades and, in some cases, entire transcripts without paying tuition, enrolling or attending class at Southern University.

In a report released recently, legislative auditor Steve Theriot noted that more than half of the alleged grade-buyers were schoolteachers or prospective schoolteachers.

One person was found to have had 47 grades recorded for classes that were never attended, the report said.

Theriot's report centered around former assistant registrar, Cleo Carroll, who allegedly sold grades during an eight-year period, a run that ended only when he was inadvertently caught by university auditors in 2003.

The university at one time suspected 541 students might be part of the grade-purchasing scandal because records showed that their grades had been changed or added under Carroll's watch (see Black Issues, April 22, 2004).

But most of those students have been cleared. Credits have been revoked from 27 "students" as a result of the university's own investigation and Southern University officials now expect about 10 of the suspects to lose their degrees.

A report compiled by campus auditors says that Carroll not only altered grades, but also allegedly sold fraudulent transcripts created with blank transcript paper and copy machines.

Carroll has been terminated and the registrar who oversaw him during much of the scandal has been reassigned. Copies of the university audit and the legislative auditor's report have been turned over to the local district attorney to help bring charges against Carroll.

Southern University chancellor Dr. Edward Jackson said university auditors identified 541 suspects last spring, which included any student who received a grade change between 1995 and 2003 for which no documentation could be found. Almost 400 students were cleared after the auditors located additional records in storage, Jackson says.

"The documentation existed--it was simply not where it was supposed to be. The registrar's office did not properly file and store records," Jackson says, noting that changes have been made to correct the problem. …

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