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Grades changed for pay at BHS

Rob Cunningham
Thursday June 15, 2000

A Berkeley High School senior apparently was paid money to change the grading records for 20 fellow students, the Daily Planet has learned. 

To members of the Class of 2000, the incident comes as a final insult to what has been a rocky, tumultuous year for the high school, plagued by fires, student protests and a labor dispute. That uneasy school year ends this evening with the graduation ceremony at the Greek Theatre, on the UC Berkeley campus. 

The Berkeley Unified School District is conducting an internal investigation into the record changes, said spokesperson Karen Sarlo. The Berkeley Police Department is conducting a parallel investigation to determine if any criminal violations occurred. 

The BUSD’s investigation is likely to reveal more details, but here is what’s known at this point. 

A few weeks ago, the high school’s registrar noticed a slight discrepancy in the grading records for one student. 

Further inquiries uncovered similar discrepancies in the files of other students. 

The first stage in the internal investigation led administrators to a student who worked as a proctor for one of the school’s counselors. On Tuesday, the student admitted that she played a role in the changes, but she told officials that she had been collecting money from peers and then giving that money to another student, who accessed the registrar’s computers and changed the records. 

However, that person has yet to be identified. The former proctor only could provide a first name of the alleged accomplice, and no one has been able to find this fellow student. 

It’s not clear how significant of changes were made in the students’ records. For example, it isn’t known if Fs became As, or if Cs became Bs. 

Some of the 20 students admitted to paying money for the changes to be made in their records, but others told top district administrators that they never asked or paid for the changes. 

All of the students known to be involved at this time are seniors. The 20 whose records were changed all have enough credits to graduate and will participate in tonight’s ceremony, but they won’t receive their diplomas until the BUSD completes its investigation. 

The student who confessed has been suspended in connection with the record changes, Sarlo said. That student apparently has enough credits to graduate, so she could receive her diploma once the investigation is finished, but she will not be allowed to walk the line tonight because her suspension bars her participation in any activities through the end of the school year. 

Sarlo said new passwords have been installed on the registrar’s system and other safety procedures have been implemented. Results of the district and police investigations may not be known for a few weeks. 

She said that as far as the district knows, no official transcripts were sent with the changed grades in place. 

Tonight’s graduation ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Greek Theatre. Because of the large number of graduates (750 this year), a ticket is required for admission.