This article below tells about a California community college student who was one of NINETY people who had computer access to change student grades. He committed several felonies and sold grade changes for transcripts to more than 50 students before being caught. The college tried to hide the problem but the local paper reported the issue and now it is all in the open. Then, after they reduced the authorized changers list to 11 people, one of them changed her own grades and was caught, so now only 7 have change authority for grades in the central computer.
Allowing grade modification in the college's central computer databases that are used for official transcripts without a formal approval process is a major control weakness. In corporations, the authority for changes of critical data is split between parties, and required at least two people involved in the process, plus a separate reconcilation control to compare changes to separately prepared and authorized documentation.
We wonder how well the process is controlled in the Lake County School District and the Lake Sumter Community College.
from Contra Costa, CA Times
Instigator in DVC plot pleads guilty
# By accepting 15 felony counts in grade-changing scheme and helping prosecutors, man gets less jail time
By Matt Krupnick
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched:09/26/2007 03:06:19 AM PDT
A Pittsburg man accused of masterminding much of the Diablo Valley College grade-changing scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to 15 felony counts, opening the door for other pleas and charges against other suspects.
Julian Revilleza, 26, appeared in Contra Costa Superior Court for the morning hearing, waving and smiling at his family as he entered the courtroom's holding cell in a yellow jail jumpsuit. Revilleza, who was about to graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo when he was arrested in July, had been charged with 23 felony counts and faced nearly 18 years in prison.
Instead, he will spend eight more months in County Jail on the 15 convictions for computer fraud, but the deal allowed him to suspend a four-year state prison term in exchange for helping in the prosecution of others in the case. Revilleza has been in custody for the two months since his arrest, in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Superior Court Judge Bessie Dreibelbis accepted the guilty plea, agreeing to dismiss the remaining counts, but she had harsh words for Revilleza.
"It's just an unfair and terrible thing that you did to the college ... and all the people who worked hard," Dreibelbis said. "I am, and the entire community is, just aghast at what went on."
Prosecutors have charged 33 others in the case and are likely to charge as many as 21 more in the next two weeks with Revilleza's help. All but three of the students who were charged have been arrested.
A handful of students have been accused of paying Revilleza and others to change their Los Medanos College grades using DVC computers, but they have yet to face criminal consequences. One of the remaining 21 suspects is a former full-time college employee whom investigators have been unable to locate.
Revilleza wanted to end his case quickly and face responsibility, said his attorney, Stephen Naratil.
"He understood the other side of things, from the side where he was helping people" improve grades, Naratil said. "But he forgot the other side, where he was hurting people. He just got a little lost."
The plea deal strikes the right balance, said prosecutor Dodie Katague. Any further indiscretions will send Revilleza to prison, Katague said, and the former business major will spend three years on probation.
"Any state prison sentence is a harsh penalty," he said. "But we also need his help. This agreement gives us some closure."
Revilleza is one of several defendants who worked in the DVC records office. About 90 people were authorized to alter transcripts throughout the three-school Contra Costa Community College District when the plot was discovered in January 2006.
The district has since cracked down on computer security, initially limiting the number of authorized users to 11. After an approved Contra Costa College employee was caught changing her own grades, administrators tightened access further, to seven employees.
College leaders chose to keep the investigation into the illicit changes quiet for a year. The Times revealed the scheme -- which involved more than 50 students and about 400 grades -- in January.
Each grade change cost hundreds of dollars, and one student took out a $4,000 cash advance on his credit card to pay for his new transcript, prosecutors said. Several of the students used the altered grades to transfer to universities across the state, including UC Berkeley.
Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Reach him at 925-943-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.