Diablo Valley grade scam update
September 19, 2008 7:51 PM
A former Diablo Valley College student and employee who had been accused of changing grades for money was dropped of all charges on Sept. 5, while three others were found guilty.
The Contra Costa Country Superior Court in Martinez had decided that due to major flaws in the DVC student service security system, it was impossible to prove Benicia resident Erick Martinez’s, 35, involvement in the scam.
Yet Julian Revilleza, Jeremy Tato (both 26-year-old Pittsburg residents) and Liberato Servo of Vallejo, 27, who pleaded guilty were convicted as the ringleaders in the scam to a year in jail each.
The former DVC students had worked in the admissions office and participated in 346 grade changes that involved payments of thousands of dollars, authorities said.
A total of 54 students took part in the scheme and had either changed grades or had paid to have theirs altered.
Eight of the 54 students were accepted and enrolled to San Francisco State.
As previously reported by [X]press, SF State had expelled those identified students in August 2007.
Christopher MacAtulad, 25, was the only student openly identified. He had paid about $4,000 to have 15 grades changed, according to prosecutors.
Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment management at SF State, would not reveal any other identities.
DVC discovered “the breach in security in February 2006 by a tip from a student about grades being exchanged for money,” DVC President Judy E. Walters said.
About 100 people had access to student records at the time, many of them being students. In addition, computers were often times left unsecured, according to Prosecutor Dodie Katague.
Since the incident has been discovered the number of student employees as well as staff with access to grades have been immensely reduced.
“To limit the possibility of future problems, DVC now has just three senior Admissions and Records employees with access to make authorized grade changes,” Walters said.
But even though DVC is working on fixing loopholes, it has failed to do so with its student record computer software, according to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
The ACCJC has recently issued a warning on the basis of a special report citing multiple deficiencies that have not been met. If the school fails to correct these matters, it will loose its accreditation.
Yet, Walters believes that the college will be able to resolve these issues to the satisfaction of the Accreditation Commission “by working together with the District staff where indicated.”
According to Volkert, unauthorized grade changes has not been an issue at SF State due to the fact that the university uses secure software and there are only a very few Student Service members who have access to grade alterations.
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