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False Transcripts Add to Southern University Grade-Changing Scandal

False Transcripts Add to Southern University Grade-Changing Scandal

A Southern University assistant registrar who sold grade changes for cash also allegedly manufactured entire academic transcripts for people who never enrolled on the Baton Rouge campus, according to an internal investigative report obtained by Black Issues In Higher Education.
In an internal report, campus auditors said they found evidence that the prime suspect in the scandal, former assistant registrar Cleo Carroll, allegedly sold fraudulent transcripts that he created with blank transcript paper and copy machines.
“In several instances, Mr. Carroll created whole transcripts for persons who did not even attend SUBR (Southern University at Baton Rouge) or did not register the courses or pay the required fees,” the report said.
Southern University Chancellor Ed Jackson declined comment on the report, saying he didn’t compile it and couldn’t speak about details. Jackson referred questions about the report to Southern University Vice President Ralph Slaughter, who said he was limited in what he could discuss because of an ongoing criminal investigation.
“All of these matters are the subject of investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the (East Baton Rouge) District Attorney’s Office, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on them at this point,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter said that one part of the report that has changed is the number of students implicated in the grade-changing scandal. The auditors’ report stated that Carroll changed grades for 570 people. But Slaughter said that number has dropped to 541 in recent weeks because some of the changes made by Carroll were found to be legitimate.
“And we’re hoping that the number (of grade changes) will continue to decrease as we proceed with the review process,” Slaughter said.
The report said a grade change cost from $200 to $500 and cited one case in which a partial transcript cost $1,300.
Jackson has repeatedly emphasized that the 541 people who benefited from grade changes are only suspects at this point. All 541 will have a chance to defend themselves initially before a panel of faculty and department heads, then by a panel of administrators who will recommend action to the school’s governing board. In some cases, diplomas may be revoked by the Southern Board of Supervisors (see Black Issues, April 22).
Jackson said the names of the 541 are being kept confidential at this point because of a federal law that protects student privacy. But he noted that the identities will be revealed if the school revokes the diploma. There’s also a chance that some of the names may come out during the criminal proceedings.
The auditors’ report noted that it’s much harder to get a handle on the fake transcripts.
“We have no way of determining how many manufactured transcripts were created by him (Carroll),” the auditors’ report said. Blank transcript paper should have been inventoried regularly and kept in a secure place to prevent unauthorized access, according to the report.
The report also noted that the grade-changing scandal is the second that occurred on Southern University’s campus in six years. In 1998, an arrest warrant was issued for a temporary student worker who was caught changing 75 F’s to A’s for eight students.
The student worker was never arrested, and was last known to be in Michigan, according to Southern University campus police records. 

—  By Scott Dyer

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