After reading this Our View editorial, it’s clear that the St. Cloud Times doesn’t understand what the transcript scandal at St. Cloud State is about.

That probe, begun almost 18 months ago, had centered on whether the university failed to return federal financial aid money it was required to return if the students whose grades were changed became ineligible to keep that financial aid.

That isn’t how the scandal started. That came months later. By the time the US Department of Education showed up on the SCSU campus, along with the FBI, members of the FA had started questioning the Potter administration about why students’ participation in classes were disappearing from SCSU’s official transcript system. By the time the FBI and the DoE visited SCSU, the Potter administration had told the Faculty Association that they didn’t view the transcript scandal as an investigation. The Potter administration said that they thought of it as data analysis:

FA: I have a clarifying question. I heard you say this is a preliminary investigation at looking so once you do your preliminary then am I hearing you say then you will decide what your next step is going to be in terms of your going after other data collection for the past four years before this?

Admin: Sure so then we have as to what kind of data is relevant and we go there and we can collect the information so that it makes sense for you. The other thing is I won’t call it an investigation I would call analysis. So it’s a data analysis to understand if there is a spike and then understand whether it is due to factors outside our control or if it is factors of the band of discretion becoming wider.

It’s clear that the Potter administration, including Devinder Malhotra, then SCSU’s Provost, and Adam Hammer, President Potter’s spokesman, spun the situation:

In addressing this concern at a meet and confirm meeting conducted amongst university professors and administration, Hammer said the cause for concern primarily dealt with late drops and withdrawals.

Recently, questions about student registration and transcript changes, specifically late withdrawals and drops, at St. Cloud State University have been reported in a few media outlets. — Devinder Malhotra

Here’s what Tamara Leenay said about the scandal:

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Last spring, Tamara Leenay, a chemistry professor at St. Cloud State University, was reviewing grades when she came across the transcript of a student who failed an organic chemistry class she taught a couple of years earlier.

“I noticed the course was not even on his transcript,” Leenay said. “There was no ‘F.’ There was no course number…It was completely gone. And I have [a] record that he was in my class and that I gave him a grade…and I was never notified of any of these changes.”

The St. Cloud Times either doesn’t know about this video or they simply chose to not report on it:

In the video, Dr. Tracey Ore explained how easy it is to scrub grades from students’ transcripts:

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

I wrote that in late January, 2014. The St. Cloud Times has never reported on this tape. I know they have it because professors who met with them told them about it.

Contrary to the St. Cloud Times’ Editorial Board’s editorial, this isn’t about the Faculty Association making additional suggestions. It’s about the Potter administration’s admitting that people within the administration, starting with Dr. Tracy Ore, started altering students’ transcripts without justification. It’s about the Potter administration conducting a thorough investigation into what really happened. That thorough investigation must start with interviewing Dr. Tamara Leenay, Dr. Phyllis VanBuren and other professors whose students had their transcripts altered to remove failing grades after they’d completed their classes.

Finally, it’s time the St. Cloud Times stopped accepting everything President Potter, Bernie Omann and Adam Hammer said as gospel fact. It’s time they started questioning their statements because their statements are questionable, if not laughable.

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