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Lodi Unified School District won’t release an unedited Robert Rivas report

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Posted: Friday, August 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 4:34 pm, Sat Aug 27, 2011.

Lodi Unified School District officials have refused to release an unedited version of the report on former Liberty High School principal Robert Rivas because they claim doing so would be financially detrimental.

Though it is still unclear as to whose names were redacted from the report, Lynn Aebi, executive assistant to the superintendent, did confirm that Cathy Nichols-Washer was the one responsible for blacking out information from the report at the advice of outside legal counsel.

Attorney Donna Matties, of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, was hired by the district to investigate claims that Rivas purposefully changed students' grades from failing to passing letter grades so that they could enroll in an after-school program that partnered the district with Humphreys College, a private institution in Stockton.

Matties released a report May 31 detailing Rivas's confession of changing grades at what appeared to be the behest of Ken Davis, a district trustee.

The report, however, redacted the names of certain individuals involved in the investigation, including who made the initial claims against Rivas.

The names of those students whose grades were changed were also blacked out.

Nichols-Washer said information that was redacted was "deemed confidential."

Aebi said the district would not release the original, unredacted report because doing so could open up the district to possible litigation should they reveal the names of certain employees or students.

In the report, other district officials' names, including assistant superintendents Odie Douglas and Mike McKilligan, were left visible.

Davis formally addressed the public at Tuesday's board meeting, stating he had no part in the grade-changing scandal and that he never suggested to Rivas that he should change grades.

"Never at any point did (Rivas) make a statement about my involvement, nor was such an idea corroborated," Davis said. "There are other issues at work here."

Meanwhile, Nichols-Washer is currently in the midst of spearheading efforts to develop procedures within the district to make sure that a grade-changing scandal does not happen again in the future.

Calling the process that is being put in place a "checks and balances" system, Nichols-Washer said Wednesday the district's Technology Department is currently obtaining accurate transcripts for the 16 students whose transcripts are under review.

Another issue at stake with the grade changes is that with better grade point averages, students applying to college had the ability to receive better state grants.

According to Tabitha Frost, spokesperson for California Student Aid Commission, a minimum GPA of 2.0 automatically puts a student in the running for Cal Grant B, which provides a living allowance and tuition and fee assistance for low-income students.

Awards for most first-year students are limited to an allowance for books and living expenses. When renewed or awarded beyond the freshman year, the award also helps pay for tuition and fees.

Should a student receive a minimum GPA of 3.0, Frost said a student qualifies to receive Cal Grant A, which assists with tuition and fees at public and independent colleges, and some occupational and career colleges.

At the University of California and California State University, the award may cover all system-wide fees.

In terms of any further investigation into the controversy, Nichols-Washer said the outside investigation is "complete."

"We are now responding to the report and taking care of what need to be taken care of," she said.

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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2 comments:

  • roy bitz posted at 10:10 pm on Fri, Aug 26, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    All I know about this matter is what I have read in the LNS Based on what I have read---I believe serious wrong has been done by administrators and it appears no one will be not be held accountable.
    This sort of thing undermines all the good programs and good people in our public education system. I believe cheating is cheating--if students are caught cheating there are serious consequences but it looks like there will be no consequences here.
    What message does this send to students? Cheat and win!

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 4:48 pm on Fri, Aug 26, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    I can not believe I am the ONLY person who cares about "Libertygate."

    The more Ken Davis cries out in denial the more it makes me think he's done something unethical, if not illegal.

     

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