Canandaigua, N.Y.—The criminal charge levied against a former college administrator, considered an “isolated” case by the school, could be larger, according to her attorney.
Nancy Purdy resigned from her position at Finger Lakes Community College as Assistant Vice President, Academic Initiatives in June, according to school president Barbara Risser. Purdy is accused of changing grades and classes over a 13-year period. She was charged and processed by authorities on Thursday night, according to her attorney.
The charges were made public Friday by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office. FLCC learned of the alleged changes after an employee stumbled on them, Risser said. The school conducted its own internal investigation and alerted authorities to its findings. Purdy resigned in June, at the conclusion of the school’s investigation, after 25 years on the job, Risser said. “There were people who instructed her to do it,” said James Nobles, Purdy’s attorney. “That signed off on it, this was not a singular action. She didn’t do this on her own. This is something that’s been going on for a long time at that school and there were other people involved with it.” Nobles agrees with FLCC that Purdy’s actions were isolated.
They may have affected as many as six students between February 10th 2000 and February 28th 2013, said Risser. “Essentially, it’s a situation where people couldn’t graduate because they had too low of a GPA,” explained Nobles. An “F” grade was changed to a “withdrawal” in cases where students had repeatedly taken classes they were unable to pass, according to Nobles. He said his client did not receive any payment from students for making the changes.
When Risser was asked by 13WHAM News whether grades were changed to raise or lower grades, Risser said the changes were mixed. She says some students received passing grades, while others received failing grades. Nobles staunchly defended his client, and said that none of the changes resulted in failing grades for students. The news of the criminal charges in the case came as a surprise to students who spoke with 13WHAM News Friday afternoon. “You can’t imagine someone just going and saying, ‘Well, O.K., this person, they are doing O.K., but I’m going to give them a better grade, or I’m going to fail them,’ because I don’t feel that that’s alright,” said Benjamin McClure. The school is in the midst of an audit examining grade changes that have gone into its system, according to Risser. FLCC has also changed the way grade changes occur. A faculty member must fill out a form, and only three people in the Registrar’s office are permitted to make changes, said Risser. “I don’t think it bothers me because she isn’t here anymore and they changed the policies,” said Elizabeth Merklinger, an FLCC student.
Story courtesy of Times news partner WHAM TV