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Montana Tech probe uncovers altered grades

BUTTE – An investigation has revealed a former employee made more than 100 unauthorized changes to grades given to 36 former or current students, who now face potential disciplinary action, officials at Montana Tech said.

Chancellor Don Blackketter told the Montana Standard that results of the investigation will be turned over to authorities for possible criminal prosecution.

Blackketter declined to name the former employee. School officials said no faculty members were involved in the alleged wrongdoing, and all transcripts have been corrected.

He said eight of the students have graduated and face a possible revocation of their degrees. Of the remaining 28, he said those who want to return face potential disciplinary action, including expulsion. He said most of those students are not expected to return to the school. He declined to elaborate. The spring semester begins Wednesday.

The school has about 2,850 students and is known for engineering and science.

The investigation began in October when the administration noticed irregularities in transcripts.

The investigation was initiated, officials said, after what first appeared to be an unauthorized change to one student’s transcript, but that triggered a larger internal investigation.

“It was the tip of the iceberg,” said Vice Chancellor Doug Abbott.

Abbott said the investigation eventually included transfer credits, grade changes and the deletion and addition of courses from transcript records.

Blackketter said 126 grades were changed, 119 courses were removed from transcripts, and 19 courses were added.

He said the school is adopting a new system intended to prevent unauthorized changes to student records. He said that includes software that will make sure grade change requests come from authorized faculty who are logged into the system securely.