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[Hocking College]

Hocking College Official: No Records On Inappropriately Conferred Degrees

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A Hocking College official said there are no records or documents within the college regarding 13 degrees that were conferred inappropriately, and most communication with the students was done verbally and privately.

In January, the college announced it identified 13 individual degrees awarded between 2010 and 2014 “without the students earning the appropriate credits for the degree,” according to a press release.

“The issue is limited to the 13 individual degrees, including two full-time faculty members no longer employed at the college,” the press release stated.

The discovery was made during an “internal audit,” an audit which was “part of newly established procedures put in place last year by incoming President Dr. Betty Young to validate faculty credentials,” according to the press release.

WOUB filed a public records request with the college the same day as the release, asking for any correspondence, writing and/or any documentation of the internal audit referencing the degree discrepancy. The request was denied by the college citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.

FERPA is a federal act that protects the privacy of student education records and allows parents and students over the age of 18 to monitor what information can be given out by an educational institution, according to the U.S Department of Education’s website.

Schools are only allowed to disclose “directory” information without the consent of the parent or student. This includes a student’s name, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance, according to the Department of Education.

WOUB sent a second request the day after the release asking for any public information about the internal audit that would not fall under the FERPA guidelines. The request was denied a second time on in March, citing FERPA guidelines.

Multiple requests were made with the college for clarification on the internal audit, but calls to Dr. Betty Young and college spokeswoman Jacqueline Hagerott were not returned.

On Tuesday, however, a Hocking official whom WOUB chose not to identify because the official is not authorized to speak officially about the situation,  said no records, documents, emails or other written or recorded communication exists about the 13 degrees, other than the transcripts of the students. The official also said communication about the degrees was done orally and conversations with the students were held privately, so no documents of any “audit” exist.

In the January press release, Hocking College said it contacted the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accrediting organization, to report the discovery.

“The college has made the HLC aware of the errors and processes in place to assure that all future degrees awarded by Hocking College meet the graduation standards,” the release stated.