More students implicated in grade scandal
December 1, 2007 7:35 PM
A student worker in the Diablo Valley College Admissions Office falsified the grades of several students including three of his girlfriend’s, helping her obtain admission to SF State, a complaint filed Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court said.
The couple, Liberato “Rocky” Servo, the fifth alleged ringleader in the case who prosecutors said recruited and trained his replacement Julian Revilleza, and Amani Ibrahim, a 2003 DVC graduate, was among 15 students added to the 34 that were named as suspects in the grade changing scheme in July.
Jo Volkert, the executive director of Admissions at SF State, said Ibrahim’s corrected transcript was one of the eight sent to the university from DVC last August. At the time, prosecutors had only identified one of the accused, Christopher MacAtulad, as being a SF State student. The university has refused to release any of the names, but said of the eight, five were students, two had been accepted for the fall 2007 semester and one was a former SF State student who went back to DVC.
In August, Volkert said the eight student’s transcripts were put on hold and the individuals would be barred from taking classes from the university in the future. Volkert confirmed that Ibrahim is no longer attending SF State and will not be allowed to return to the campus as a student but refrained from giving specifics about when and how long she attended the university.
“I can verify that she was in the original list that DVC provided to us,” she said Friday adding that she has not spoken directly with prosecutors. Volkert said the information was “no news” to her.
Prosecutor Dodie Katague said the 15 students have been suspects since his investigation began, but his department felt they didn’t have “sufficient evidence until now” to file charges against the students. Katague said he expects to file charges against four more students, from DVC’s sister school Los Medanos College, sometime next week. Three students were arraigned Friday and the district attorney said Servo is expected to surrender to authorities on Monday. Arrest warrants have been issued for all 15 students, he said.
MacAtulad, who plead not guilty to one felony count in September and is not scheduled to appear in court until late January, paid more than $4,000 to have 15 grades changed, the August complaint said.
Ibrahim, the court documents said, had her boyfriend change two grades, a C to a B and a D to a C, in February of 2003. A third grade, from a fall 2003 Math-142 class, was changed in January 2004 from an F to a C.
Servo, 28, is said to have recruited and trained alleged ringleader Revilleza between July and August 2004, the complaint said. Furthermore, the complaint indicates that Servo contacted Revilleza several times between September 2004 and February 2006 giving him names of clients and what grades to change.
At least eighteen students from the first complaint had contact with Servo before having their grades changed by Revilleza or Jeremy Tato, another DVC student employee.
The second complaint came after Revilleza, who was originally facing 23 felony counts and plead guilty to 15 counts in September, began cooperating with prosecutors. Revilleza is expected to serve one year in county jail for his crimes.
“He gave us enough information to go ahead and we felt we had enough evidence to file those cases,” Katague said of Revilleza’s cooperation.
Tato, 26, who was recruited by childhood friend Revilleza, was sentenced to one year in county jail last week after he accepted a deal from prosecutors as well. Erick Martinez and Ronald Nixon, both employees in the Admissions Office, have also been charged as ringleaders.
The scheme surfaced in January 2006 when a DVC instructor noticed that Martinez’s name kept reappearing on his class roster despite his several attempts to drop Martinez from his class. The instructor contacted college officials when his student’s grade reappeared as an A. From there, the plot widened to include more than 400 grade changes between 2000 and 2006.
Before the discovery was made, more than 90 workers throughout the three college district had access to the system Datatel, where student’s grades are entered. The district has since reduced that number dramatically, allowing only around 10 workers in the district to have top-tier access to the system, DVC officials have said.
The Pleasant Hill campus, which is part of the Contra Costa Community College District, has somewhere around 20,000 students a semester and is the second largest community college feeder school to SF State. According to the California Postsecondary Education Commission’s report on transfer pathways, DVC send 334 students to SF State after the 2006 spring semester and accounted for 8 percent of the university’s total number of transfer students. City College of San Francisco is the largest feeder school to SF State, according to CPEC.
Students named in the new complaint transferred to four-year schools around the state, including Cal State East Bay, UC San Diego, UC Riverside and UCLA.
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