Investigation into grade tampering at TCC continues

Wednesday, October 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The terrorist attacks of September 11th have immigration officials re-visiting the requirements for foreign students. Those requirements are under the microscope here in Tulsa after several; cases of grade tampering led to a police investigation.

News on Six reporter Tami Marler says they're "big business" for American colleges and universities. Foreign students. 500,000 nationwide, 6,000 in Oklahoma. Students like Mohammad Khawaja, proficient in several languages. He sailed through what's called a TOEFL exam. "TOEFL is the primary indicator to see how well you speak English. And coming from the United States, it's very important that you have a good grasp of English." But officials at Tulsa Community College say 25 students falsified their TOEFL scores and forged documents required for admittance.

TCC President Dean VanTrease: "They can make those forms look pretty real if you don't know what you're looking for." Oklahoma higher education requires a certain level of English proficiency as measured by TOEFL. If a student is accepted, the school passes that information along to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Then the student has to provide a valid passport. In the TCC case, students broke the rules all along the way. "Truthfully if you get some bad people in certain roles, I don't care how good your system is."

TCC's system revealed evidence of grade tampering - and led to a much broader investigation. So far, officials have uncovered falsified transcripts, TOEFL scores, and altered grades. Police are working with federal officials to determine whether some of the students' passports were fake. The DA has already charged Dlorah Jean Hogle with two felony counts of altering electronic records. Now Police are investigating a Middle Eastern man, whom they say enlisted the help of another woman inside the school. Investigators say the man stood to gain financially from helping 73 Middle Eastern students, now suspended - but still in the country.

VanTrease says he was stunned to learn the INS has no database for foreign students, and no manpower to look into the students who were admitted to TCC under false pretenses. "I think somebody should know about it. And if they shouldn't be here, they should be sent home." The problem is - who is keeping track?

The FBI and Tulsa Police have been comparing the names of suspended students with a list of suspected terrorists. They say the possibility of fake passports makes that comparison more difficult.