Doctored grades of high school athletes are the center of a continuing investigation by Chicago Public Schools.
Four student athletes’ grades were inflated by school employees before the students’ transcripts were sent to colleges, a report by the Chicago Board of Education’s Office of the Inspector General revealed.
“If we find that people did the wrong thing regarding grades, we will take very severe disciplinary action,” said Chicago Public Schools spokesman Mike Vaughn. Vaughn said the school system is conducting its own investigation into the matter.
Staff at the unidentified high school sent transcripts fraudulently misrepresenting the students’ grades in one class, thereby raising their cumulative grade point averages. One month later, the grades were changed back to their original form, but universities were unaware until the inspector general’s investigation began.
The report, issued last month, also said high school staff lost the original permanent records for three of the four athletes mentioned above. Investigators have been unable to locate the records.
Calvin Davis, Chicago Public Schools director of sports administration, said the inspector general contacted his office about the allegations, but his role in the investigation was only to share information within the administration.
“There were questions around grades that were submitted either to [NCAA] Clearinghouse or universities for basketball players, and there were some questions about whether or not someone within the school had altered grades,” Davis said.
Inspector General Jim Sullivan said his office was unable to identify the staff member or members responsible, because while the investigation revealed the usernames that logged in to make the changes, passwords for the grade-keeping system were not secure, and were sometimes shared or changed.
The investigation into this high school also revealed an instance in which a student athlete received a D that was changed almost one year later, without supporting documentation, to an A, and another case in which a student athlete graduated despite not fulfilling the necessary graduation requirements in a core area.
Sullivan said throughout the investigation his office was in contact with the universities involved and, according to information obtained by his office, none of the affected students is currently enrolled in college.
In his report, the inspector general recommended disciplinary action against staff members and suggested routine audits of senior transcripts in the future.
Davis, the sports administration director, said he believed these safeguards should already be in place at many schools.
“I think that any good administrator or any good school should have those reviews entrusted to someone with high integrity, and certainly have the grade books to back up the entries,” he said.
Sullivan said his office had offered to oversee future transcript audits, but said the school in question is responsible for final decisions on this, as well as further disciplinary actions.
Matt Troha, assistant executive director of the Illinois High School Association, said they had no involvement in the case.
“We wouldn’t have any interaction with it, unless any of the unnamed students were reported to us as being student-athletes. Had that been the case, there likely would have been an investigation into whether those students were eligible.”
If the students had competed in high school athletics while academically ineligible, Troha said there could have been “some discipline to them, their schools and their athletic departments.”