Time to ‘Fess Up and Accept Blame for Scandal



With the announcement of Erick Martinez’s “not guilty” verdict by a Martinez jury, it’s still business as usual in the DVC administration building. And by that, we mean a complete lack of taking responsibility for having created the conditions that made the cashfor- grades scandal possible in the first place.

Martinez was acquitted Sept. 5 on nine charges that he changed 15 of his own grades, as well as those of some friends, while he was a student worker in DVC’s admissions and records office. After the verdict, DVC President Judy Walters sent an e-mail message to all employees, expressing her disappointment with the verdict and explaining it does not change her belief that Martinez is, in fact, guilty.

“It simply means that the District Attorney was not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Martinez made the unauthorized grade changes,” said Walters in her message.

She then went on to reiterate that she was not here when the sale of grades was still occurring.

This message is just the latest in a series from the administration, which attempts to deflect any blame from itself for the grade sale scandal, while simultaneously patting itself on the back for all its hard work in correcting the (unmentioned) egregious lack of oversight that led to the situation in the first place.

Walter never acknowledges in her message what was responsible for the “reasonable doubt” Assistant District Attorney Dodie Katague could not surmount.

Time cards were invalid, and passwords were shared by workers in the admissions and records office. And it was this seemingly acceptable practice, compounded by an inability to supervise the student employees which made it impossible for the jury to return a guilty verdict for Martinez..

Someone was asleep at the wheel, and it was this more than six-year nap that led to hundreds of unauthorized grade changes that now put the college’s accreditation at risk. Despite the complimentary words of an inspection team that visited the college Friday, the issue has yet to be fully resolved.

Yet, the administration continues to shrug off accountability and maintains an attitude of the reluctant hero who has merely inherited this problem and is forced (ever so slowly) to clean up the mess.

Granted, the entirety of grade changes occurred before Walters took her post. They occurred during then- President Mark Edelstein’s tenure and were inherited by interim President Diane Scott-Summers, who was prone to criticize the Contra Costa Times for breaking the story in January, 2007 – as if media coverage was the problem, rather than the scandal itself.

But the conclusion of the Martinez trial offered yet another missed opportunity for Walters, on behalf of the administration, to own up to its part in the grade scandal that resulted in felony charges against more than 50 students and is considered one of the worst cases of college fraud in the country.

Yes, the jury acquitted Martinez. But in doing so, it indicted an administration whose unacknowledged oversights opened the door for the scandal to occur in the first place.