Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Legislature passes DVC-prompted grade bill

The state Assembly on Monday gave final legislative approval to a bill meant to avoid college grade-changing scandals like the one that shook Diablo Valley College last year.

The legislation, AB1754, would encourage the state's 110 community colleges to adopt a standard policy for changing students' grades. The bill's only requirement is that the state chancellor's office distribute the model policy to each college.

But the measure has nevertheless attracted opposition. The California Department of Finance, worried about forcing an unfunded mandate on the state chancellor, submitted a letter opposing the legislation, and the Community College League of California also criticized it.

"I wouldn't say it's ardent opposition," said Scott Lay, president of the league, which represents college administrators. Combined with actions already taken in the wake of the DVC scandal, he said, the proposal is "duplicative."

The opposition and the Legislature's lukewarm approval — the Senate passed the bill 21-12 — has concerned the proposal's sponsor, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward. She said Monday that she would organize a letter-writing campaign to avert a veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I don't see why it's so controversial," she said.

Hayashi proposed the bill, which at one point contained significantly stronger measures, following revelations last year that student employees had changed hundreds of grades in exchange Advertisementfor money over the course of six years. More than 50 former students were charged with felonies, making it perhaps the largest criminal case of its kind in U.S. history.

Two ringleaders pleaded guilty and were sentenced to jail or home detention. Several participants were expelled from colleges and universities or had degrees rescinded.

Even with the opposition, the bill and the criminal prosecution has been effective, said Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, a co-sponsor of the measure.

"Hopefully, all this attention will send a message that this behavior is unacceptable," he said. The state chancellor's office said it supports Hayashi's proposal and hopes to persuade college leaders to take control of grade management.

"What this bill does is just reaffirm that we are doing what we can to avert future unauthorized grade changes," said Marlene Garcia, the state's vice chancellor for government relations. "We can't tell anyone what to do, but we can suggest models."

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    Dillan said...

    This sure looks like a copyright violation. This story is from the Contra Costa Times.