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Altered grades changed, school begins Oct. 1

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PABLO — Grades were changed back to the way they were originally issued by the instructor of record after a several months of investigation into altered grades at Salish Kootenai College. The marks for “13 students had been raised to allow them to enter the nursing program,” according to Salish Kootenai College President Luana Ross.

In a press conference on Sept. 20, Ross said the college discovered the altered grades during a routine review in the spring of 2012. 

The grades were for a one-credit biology lab in the fall of 2011, and all the students were in the pre-nursing tract. The faculty and staff who may be involved are no longer employed by SKC. 

“After receiving complaints and investigating the situation, the college is taking steps to ensure the academic integrity of the college,” Ross said. 

SKC board chair Jim Durglo said, “We hold our nursing program in high esteem.”

He added that continuing a high level of integrity is important. 

The students involved were informed of this action by a letter from SKC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Elaine Frank, and verbally by the SKC Interim Director of Nursing Rebekkah Hulen. Some of the students are still attending SKC; some have transferred to another college; and some are no longer in school. One student, who had previously taken the class, continued on into the SKC nursing program.

Students unhappy with the grade change could choose to repeat the course, challenge the course by examination by Sept. 28 or accept the original grade issued.

SKC pre-nursing students who had taken the other section of the lab class, which they said was Anatomy and Physiology, are worried about what will happen to their grades. 

Students routinely retake the class until they get an A, since the nursing program is so competitive.

Other newspaper articles described the 13 students as underperforming, which one student said made her and her classmates look like the bad guys. 

A lab class usually reinforces a lecture class, but a pre-nursing student stated that the lab class in question made it “ten times harder.” 

The nursing program at SKC is one of the largest at the school with about 80 students, 24 in the first year, 29 in the second year and 27 continuing on for a bachelor’s degree, Hulen said.

Unrelated to the altered grades incident, SKC has hired a new director of nursing, Katherine Willock, and five other educators for the nursing program. Classes begin Oct. 1.

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