MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — An investigation at Salish Kootenai College found that grades for 13 students in an anatomy and physiology lab class were raised last fall to allow them to enter the college's nursing program, the school's president announced.
SKC President Luana Ross said Thursday she felt the public had a right to know: "We feel like it's part of our institutional integrity."
The grades were changed back to those originally awarded by the instructor, no faculty or staff member involved in the grade alterations is still employed at the tribal college and only one of the 13 students whose grades were changed advanced to the nursing program, the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/VkOUT3 ) reported.
Changing the grades "was a terrible disservice not only to the students, but to SKC because it is important for people to know that our way is to earn success," Ross said.
"Administrators are implementing an academic integrity policy that will no longer allow college employees, regardless of good intentions, to falsify student success and give unfair advantages," Ross said in prepared remarks during a news conference on the Pablo campus.
Ross, who was hired as president in 2010, said she heard rumblings about the grade changes and decided to look into it.
A routine review uncovered the changes to 13 students' grades in a one-credit lab class. The college hired Lynda Brown of the University of Montana School of Business to look into it further.
The college's nursing department has six new staff members this fall, including interim director Rebecca Hulen. The nursing program also is making curriculum changes "to further strengthen the program," Ross said.
She declined to say which staffers were involved or what positions they held.
"It's difficult to talk about who did what because some things have been contested and some is in litigation," Ross said.
SKC board chairman Jim Durglo said the college announced the investigation because it wants to maintain the integrity of the nursing program.
The students whose grades were changed were offered the opportunity to repeat the lab, challenge it by examination or accept their original grade.
Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com