ST. CLOUD, Minnesota — The U.S. Department of Education has closed an investigation into changes made to students' transcripts at St. Cloud State University without finding any wrongdoing.
The department's Office of Inspector General determined that "there appears to be no federal violation" of student loan rules and the "case is recommended for closure," the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1x7kS7H) reported. The paper cited information provided to the newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The department was investigating whether St. Cloud State 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.
Federal officials were on campus in the summer of 2013, asking questions of current and former employees. Officials were investigating allegations that school administrators had changed poor or failing grades to drops or withdrawals on the transcripts of mostly minority students, affecting their ability to remain enrolled as full-time students.
The original allegation was that many of the students whose grades were altered were receiving some form of federal assistance through grants or loans and that money was not returned to the Department of Education as it should have been.
The inspector general's office redacted the name or names of the people who made the allegation. Nobody interviewed was identified by name.
Professors had complained that grades they gave students were later removed from transcripts without their knowledge.
In reviewing a sample of 237 student transcripts changed between July 2011 and June 2012, the university found that administrators responsible for making the changes consulted faculty in 69 percent of the cases. In others, it was not clear whether the faculty member was not notified or did not respond.
St. Cloud State has clarified its policy on how grade changes are processed and communicated to faculty.
Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com
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