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Exclusive: SCSU transcript scandal exposed

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The first time Examiner published an article about St. Cloud State's transcript scandal, questions were abundant. That first article included times where members of the Faculty Association questioned the Potter administration about grades on students' transcripts that had disappeared:

I don’t know a way to describe it but I am going to use alterations where students are removed from being listed as having been enrolled.

The date of that article was December 4, 2012. That was the first time questions were raised in a public forum. The next time the subject got raised was in this July 10, 2013 article:

This week, the investigation has learned what triggered the initial inquiry. Prof. Tamara Leenay, a chemistry professor at St. Cloud State, was looking through her list of students when she spotted the name of a student in her organic chemistry class. She recognized the student's name because he'd taken (and failed) her organic chemistry class before.

By going through her records, Dr. Leenay was able to verify that the student had taken her organic chemistry class before, that he'd completed all the course work, taken the mid-term and final exams and that he'd failed the class.

What's interesting is that the Potter administration didn't speak with Dr. Leenay. The administration apparently wasn't interested in investigating the scandal. This morning, Examiner received this Youtube video. One of the frames in the video shows the headline from an article in the campus newspaper. The title reads "SCSU addresses false news reports." Here's what the next frame said:

Five days after the article, Provost Devinder Malhotra sent a letter to administrative staff about late drops and withdrawals.

Highlighted in the middle of that frame is the message that "Late withdrawal and course drop policies are common, reasonable practice in higher education." Provost Malhotra is right. Late drops and withdrawals are reasonable and common. That isn't what the FA was questioning. A little over a minute into the video, Dr. Tracy Ore was asked about removing grades from student transcripts. Here's the transcript of the exchange between Dr. Ore and the unnamed professor:

PROFESSOR: How long, um, Tracy, how long will it be -- I guess she got the grades off of there. Is that...is that a long process, a semester-long process or is that a short process?
DR. ORE: It can happen in a day.
PROFESSOR: Oh ok.
DR. ORE: When I did it last year, Sue wanted to meet with me and say 'here's all of my documentation...
PROFESSOR: OK.
DR. ORE: ...and it might, might have to check with student disability services, check with the math department, check with whoever else.

That isn't the transcript of a conversation about processing late withdrawals. When the unnamed professor stated that "I guess she got the grades off of there", there meaning the student's transcript, Dr. Ore didn't interrupt or correct the other professor. When a student is granted a late withdrawal, the student's participation in the class isn't removed from the transcript. The student's transcript reflects that the student took the course, then received a withdrawal.

The final frame of the video contains more of the administration's double-speak:

"Integrity of transcripts and the record is very, very important to us and so is the participation of the faculty in that process. There's no question about that."

Provost Devinder Malhotra, as quoted by MPR in their June 10, 2013 article.

As the audio clearly indicates, transcript integrity wasn't a high priority. The University's actions say that transcript integrity wasn't important to them.

Finally, it must be noted that Dr. Ore was part of the administration prior to becoming the department chair of the Social Works program. As an administrator, she reported directly to Provost Malhotra.

At minimum, Provost Malhotra should've asked Dr. Ore if she'd deleted any grades while she worked for him. That would've proven that transcript integrity was important to the Potter administration and to him personally.

The fact that he attacked people for raising a legitimate question says everything. The fact that Provost Malhotra didn't talk with Dr. Leenay after she filed a grievance on the issue says that he wasn't interested in finding out the truth.

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