Saturday, April 14, 2012

NWACC Grades Tampering

Photo of Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC)

NWACC Grades Tampering Practices - Written by an Arkansas Tax Payer

To Whom It May Concern,

This afternoon I received several documents via a Freedom of Information Request through the Office of the Benton County Prosecutor. I feel that you need to be made aware of one of these documents. It is a letter from a former NWACC student named dated March 27, 2012. In this letter the student addresses what she terms unethical grade practices. Apparently this student had enrolled at NWACC in 2008, but later became so inundated with family and work issues that she eventually stopped attending classes. This student claims that NWACC has altered grades which should reflect "F's" so that they instead show "A's, B's, & C's". She further comments that she feels the school has intentionally done this as a means to keep class averages up.

This individual has apparently attempted to get a copy of her transcript in order to verify the status of these classes and her grades, but is being blocked by the school until her account is paid in full. She states in her letter "I will not voluntarily pay an institution if teachers are fixing grades even if those grades are mine." She also states "I do not want to get anyone in trouble, but I do not want to pay full price for a semester when I only stayed for part of it due to unethical grading practices." This individual has shown an enormous amount of strength and dignity coming forward in this manner. Not only is she attempting to reconcile a bad debt, she is literally lobbying the school in an effort to devalue her own grades on the simple premise of ethics. I deal with a lot of people and character like this is extremely rare in my opinion.

This, of course, raises several valid questions. Is NWACC actually altering grades in order to earn unjust credit? Is this practice systemic in nature? Is there a chance that school officials are possibly altering documents as a means to defraud the state or extrapolate additional monies from the public? Is there a chance that students are being graduated on the basis of phony reporting? Given your understanding of these things, hopefully you will recognize the severity of these allegations. In interviewing another student, she informed me that her grades were altered too. In fact she was an honor student on the Dean's List prior to entering the school's Respiratory Therapy Program. In her case, she was reportedly bullied to the point of filing formal complaints with the school.

During the course of these events her grades mysteriously began to slip. Fortunately she had enough foresight to maintain her own records and was eventually able to prove that the school was issuing fictitious grades. Of importance is the fact that it took her approximately a year before the school would admit to error and remedy the situation. She informed me that the Director of RT finally conceded to the truth and raised two of her grades. She also mentioned that she felt there were other adjustments that were needed, but that she resigned her plight due to the tremendous effort it had taken just to get the two corrections. Surely you will agree that a student's time needn't be congested with frivolous efforts such as combating bullying and lobbying for equitable process. I must again ask how a school, in good faith, can punish students for cheating if the school itself is cheating.

In a recent conversation with a lower-level (part-time) employee, I was instructed on how schools receive public monies based on the number of "seats" (students) they have. If in addition to low graduation rates and high failure rates NWACC is also forging grades, one must question the legitimacy of the numbers being afforded in order to facilitate funding. A student also mentioned several other accounts of what she believed to be unfair grading. There were two students, for instance, in her own class that she claimed had very poor grades. One of these students also apparently had a very poor attendance record. After being wrongfully expelled, she was dumbfounded that these two individuals were allowed to graduate when her grades and performance reviews grossly superseded those of these two students.

This is obviously an issue that I cannot successfully address as a taxpayer, but one I do hope the state will consider in conjunction with the many other items that have recently come to light. In addition to claiming that the school treats its part-time staff very poorly, the informant I spoke with made the comment that NWACC's administration is not concerned with student welfare or academic success near as much as it is with financial prosperity. Needless to say, any fabrication of official records could, and probably should be construed as fraud. And it currently appears that student grades are being altered for both better and worse depending on the specific agenda. You may not agree, but these problems can almost all be traced back to the quality of the school's administration.

If officials, for instance, are actively concealing wrongdoing, one must question their allegiance to the higher good of the college and the welfare of its students. This (recent) case involving sexual harassment would be a good example. You are probably familiar with the Osh Act. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with several other agencies are consigned to ensuring that citizens are provided a safe work environment. This not only covers obvious physical hazards and issues involving ADA compliance. It also covers any personal threats which may exist in the workplace. If the school's administration is possibly placing students and faculty at risk by employing "undesirables", someone arguably needs to step in and mitigate the situation.

KNWA News Coverage on NWACC

 Photo of Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC)

KNWA News Coverage Wrote:

Dozens of state lawmakers received an e-mail filled with accusations regarding greed and corruption at Northwest Arkansas Community College, prompting school administrators to respond.

"We did receive an email with some very unsettling accusations included in that email," Wyley Elliot, NWACC's vice president for Public Relations and Development. "We are in the process of turning that over to our lawyers and beyond that we don't have any other comment."

The email, sent by Matthew Holland, is addressed to the president of Northwest Arkansas Community College, but it was also sent to state and local lawmakers, the media and other faculty members at the school.

The letter claims the school bureaucracy is bullying and even "robbing" students.

Matthew Holland, who wrote the letter says he did so after meeting a woman he believes was expelled unfairly. Holland says he meant for the letter to be anonymous, but he left his email address at the top.

College administrators are concerned by the closing paragraph of the email, which reads:
"It is my opinion that you have several problematic employees on your roster that need to be dealt with. I also think you need to take a hard look at the direction your administration is heading. I sincerely hope you will take these matters to heart. Big things are on the horizon."
Holland says he has no intention of doing anything violent, and the last paragraph is about society changing as a whole.