Flagler College investigation reveals score altering scandal

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- An investigation into score tampering at Flager College in St. Augustine revealed the misconduct goes back at least six more years than originally reported.

The 33 page investigative report was commissioned by the Flagler College Board of Trustees and conducted by Melissa Nelson of the McGuire-Woods law firm in Jacksonville. It was launched after an administrator in February admitted to changing test scores. The investigation revealed hundreds of students were in turn misplaced and some ended up failing their classes because of the altered grades.

"It is difficult because obviously people want to talk about what happened, why it happened and how it could have been prevented," said Flagler College President, William Abare.

He says he trusted now former Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marc Williar. Williar resigned and took responsibility for changing and misreporting SAT and ACT test scores, high school grade point averages, and high school class ranks of entering freshman, beginning in fall 2010.

But the newly released report shows the alteration of school scores dates back to 2004. The investigation found a staffer did question missing records in July of 2013, but was told by an office administrator, "No further time should be devoted to the issue."

"All of this can be attributed to one individual," said Abare. "And one individual doesn't define who we are as an institution."

The main recommendation that came out of the report deals with how the college will handle data going forward. They'll have more than one set of eyes looking at the information. And the list of needed changes include limited security access to student record information, and safe harbors for confidential reporting of misconduct.

"One of the things we will do is have the data uploaded directly from the educational testing service and ACT," said Abare.

He says they plan to look at each affected student on a case by case basis. Of the 223 students who were misplaced due to the grade altering, one third failed classes.

"We recognize that they paid for a course that they were misplaced in so we will look at that as part of the remedies we will consider," said Abare.

He also says the students who failed will be given the option of expunging the course from their academic record. New students will report to Flagler College on August 23.


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