Grade-change investigation continues

The investigation surrounding the grade change “scandal” of Fall 2007 is still ongoing.

The incident, which concerns several individuals affiliated with Florida A&M University, occurred in November 2007. The names of the individuals, who have been under investigation for four months, still have not been released.

However, University officials said they have been working to tighten up the University grading system.

“We believe that grading shouldn’t be tainted by any means,” said Maurice Holder, the Faculty Senate president. “We have put in additional measures to see grades from the professor and to the registrar’s office. We are against the dishonest changing of grades. We will continue to monitor how grades are being distributed. Grades shouldn’t be changed by anyone but the faculty.”

Phil Kiracofe, a public information officer at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said the investigation is still pending. He said as a result, no names could be released to the public.

“With crime investigations, anytime we conduct a complex investigation such as this, there are a lot of interviews to conduct and a lot of evidence to collect,” Kiracofe said. “We do not want to rush the investigation and make a mistake. In terms of how much longer it is going to take, I really cannot say.”

Kiracofe said FDLE became involved at the request of FAMU. He said the University became aware of some irregularities in the grading and ultimately decided to turn to law enforcement.

Individuals involved in the grading scandal stole the passwords of several faculty members in order to hack into to modify their grades. Faculty members whose passwords were stolen had their computer hard drives confiscated by police officers and in turn were given used hard drives.

Cheryle A. Readus, who serves as FAMU’s transfer credit evaluation coordinator, had her password stolen and used to alter grades. Consequently her hard drive was taken. Readus said she was displeased by the fact that students were deceitful.

“I was upset that students would use our passwords to do dishonest things because that could have been our jobs,” said Readus, who has been with the University for 17 years. “Some of us have been here for over 20 years and we didn’t need anything like this.”

Readus said valuable information was on her hard drive and is upset that she has lost it.

“I don’t even know where my hard drive is,” Readus said. “I had letters of recommendations and documents saved and now they are gone. Everything was on there. This is just bad. I don’t believe this is fair to the other students who worked hard and still did poorly. I’m not saying they (students who altered grades) should be kicked out but they should receive Fs for the courses they changed.”

Lakita Lewis, 21, a junior political science major, agreed.

Lewis said that while the grading scandal was an immoral act, she could see where the individuals involved were coming from.

“School is very, very hard,” said Lewis, an Orlando native. “It can be very stressful but however, they were dishonest. It’s not fair. Some students work really hard and deserve to be rewarded. I believe the people involved should be punished accordingly. FAMU is already surrounded by negativity and the grade scandal just put the icing on the cake.”

Kiracofe said FDLE could not determine whether the individuals involved will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime. However, he guaranteed that investigators would remain on top of the case.

I’m not sure when we’ll be done, but when it is, it will be released to the media,” Kiracofe said. “Once we know the charges these people may face then we’ll be able to decide their consequences.”