EXCLUSIVE: Public university unfairly raising grades of black students, say three former faculty members
School administrators at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) are systematically raising the final grades of African-American students, three ex-faculty members told Campus Reform last month.
Former Director of Academic Technology Shira Hedgepeth, along with two former professors who spoke to Campus Reform on the condition of anonymity, alleged administrators at the historically black college routinely increase the final grades of African-American students in order to raise the school’s standing.
“Some students had their final grades changed based on their race,” Hedgepeth told Campus Reform on June 6. “That was a common complaint of many of the faculty that I worked with.”
“None of the Caucasian or non-African American students… none of their grades were changed,” she added. “The way the grades fell out, there was no other reason for changing.”
Documents provided to Campus Reform by one of the former faculty members appear to validate these claims. Campus Reform has chosen not to publish the records due to concerns that doing so may violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act by revealing the names and grades of students.
According to Hedgepeth, and the two former professors who were granted anonymity because of they feared speaking out may jeopardize their retirement, instructors would submit final grades to the school only to have them later revised upwards by administrators as a way to “take care of their African American students.”
“There is no other motivation,” said Hedgepeth. “If you work on that campus you know it. Everything that was done was to make sure we service the African American students.”
WSSU’s spokesman, Aaron Singleton, however, told Campus Reform that the university had received no complaints.
“I checked throughout our administration and the university has not heard of any of those allegations,” said Singleton. “No one has filed any complaints at the university.”
According to one of the former professors, however, several faculty members have filed numerous complaints which were ignored.
“I have reported everything,” the professor said. “I doubt anything was done.”
“I have tried reaching out to our accrediting body but they would not take complaints such as these,” added Hedgepeth. “We have done everything we can to get somebody to start looking.”
Another former professor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the practice is ongoing.
“Oh yes, definitely,” said the former professor. “Oh yes, it is still going on.”
The two professors wished to remain anonymous due to fears the school would retaliate against them.
“All the faculty, white and black are very fearful to speak,” said one of the professors. “The department is run by fear and through retaliation. If you speak out you will be retaliated against.”
Hedgepeth was terminated by WSSU in 2011. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has since ruled she was a victim of racial discrimination when she was terminated. She now has two pending lawsuits filed against the school.
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