The Touro College Scam: Cash For Grades

22

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touro logo.jpgTouro College’s former admissions director and nine others tied to the New York City-based institution have been indicted for a “cash for grades scheme” involving fraudulent transcripts. The Manhattan District Attorney has said the students’ transcripts were altered, and transcripts and degrees were created for people who had never attended the college. Those indicted include three city teachers said to have paid for false master’s degrees from Touro, according to The New York Times.

The district attorney’s office found indications that more than 50 transcripts were tampered with this year alone, and that people had paid $3,000 to $25,000 to have transcripts altered or falsified.

Touro said it is cooperating with the investigation, which has resulted in several arrests.

According to today’s NY Times, The NYS Education Department said that it would review the records of all people with Touro College degrees who received professional licenses or teaching certificates from the state in recent years to make sure their records were not falsified.

Tom Dunn, a department spokesman, said the department was undertaking an investigation “to ensure the public is protected from unscrupulous, unqualified and unlicensed individuals.”

Ronald J. Aiello, the lawyer for Andrique Baron, Touro’s former admissions director, said yesterday that his client “received no money to change anybody’s grades,” but had tried to help authorities by “exposing a system that was susceptible to corruption.”

(Sources: NY Times / JTA)


22 COMMENTS

  1. Hashem Yiracheim!
    I hope once again we use our heads while posting here. We are being watched, so we must try to prevent the spread of possible chilul hashem.

  2. By the press reports I have read so far, there were no members of our community involved. I just hope that it doen’t leave employers with a bias against Touro as so many memebrs of our community attend the school.

    Sigh, remember the good ole days, when you had to give millions of dollars to a school to get an honoarary degree. 3k – 25k is an insult to higher education in America. Bill Gates, a Harvard dropout, was first given his honorary degree by Harvard this year!

    GOM

  3. Firstly I want to say that I am not pointing fingers at anyone. Touro is a good college that does good things for the frum community.

    That said, Touro is a business. Period.

  4. Since the story has been on all major news for the past day everybody knows about and everyone who hates us does so more now,and we will not know all the facts even if we pay attention to the news. The story is out,the damage has been done.

  5. This is very strange! Touro doesn’t let you get away with anything. They don’t accept Maalot degrees from Thomas Edison (which every other college accepts) and they don’t let you transfer all your credits from many other colleges. NYU gives 12 credits (which all colleges accept) to people who pass a language test and Touro only accepts 9! I worked very hard for my Touro Master’s degree, so this is very upsetting. I doubt these people who were arrested are in the administration. I would guess it was some unscrupulous office employees (who are mostly aino yehudim).

  6. It should be noted that Touro itself uncovered this scheme and reported it to the police (who gave it to the DA’s office.) The DA’s office thanked Touro for its help and cooperation.

    These people involved are employees in a off-branch Touro campus that caters to the minority community.

  7. flatbusher, she may have worked in the office on 23, but she was only in charge of an off-branch.

    And if accepting Yeshiva credits reduces the time needed for a Yid to invest in college, then by all means that is a wonderful idea!

  8. As a former admissions officer for a large, frum program of Touro- it is important to understand the multifaceted dynamic of student’s student body- of over 10,000 enrolled students:

    The “frum” programs- Lander Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS divisions) comprise a very small number of Touro’s overall student body, despite our familiarity with them.

    As someone who presided over and administrated the rigorous admissions process of several hundred students, I can assure you there was no “shtick” involve;A candidate who was not in possession of a Regents high- school diploma (or its equivalent) as well the SAT boards was not considered for admission until these were satisfied.

    Furthermore, the admissions and registrars office of Touro College- and all its site campuses- are bound by laws mandated by the Middle States Accrediting Assocation, through which Touro is chartered legally.

    It is important to realize that the other graduate and vocational program that Touro offers, not ones that the “frum oilam” is familiar with, are not necessarily administrated by “unzere heimeshe mentchen”.

    Accordingly, one must be careful in pointing fingers at individual frum employees of the LAS facilities- that don’t work directly with the other admissions officers at other facilities.

    As a former employee of Touro College’s LAS divisions, I am confident that my former co-workers are “B’chezkas Kashrus” and that chazaka should be presumed by outsiders as well.

    I hope this “insider perspective” serves to be “maamid hadovor al hoemes vhasholom”.

    Approaching Tisha B’av and internalizing the gravity of “sinas Chinam”- that the media feeds upon- it behooves us as frum yiden to evelauate critically the allegations that opportunistic journalists thrive upon for a “parnosah”.

    It is my hope that we don’t devolve into the state of “kol me shelo bono beis hamikdash beyomov, kieloo chorvo”.

  9. Rabbi Safran, I think enrollment is currently 23,000+.

    BTW, when I enrolled in ’94 my HS diploma (based on my grades) was sufficient. They hadn’t required any SAT. I don’t know if that policy has changed since.

  10. Sruli-

    nice shtikel but your e-mail address doesn’t exist

    our message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

    Subject: Article on YeshivaWorld
    Sent: 07/18/2007 4:17 PM

    The following recipient(s) could not be reached:

    [email protected] on 07/18/2007 4:22 PM
    The e-mail account does not exist at the organization this message was sent to. Check the e-mail address, or contact the recipient directly to find out the correct address.

  11. What bothers me is how almost every article about this has to insert the words “a Jewish-based college,” or words to that effect.

    As a former registrar at the main campus on 23rd Street, and later a site coordinator at a frum program of Touro, I can tell you that the two names I recognized when I researched this news item were both African-Americans, not Jews.

    As it happens, one of them, Lasheen Tingling (according to the news articles I read), was my co-worker when I was there, and she was always a nice and good person. The other, Andre Baron, was a very friendly person, and though I had only occasional working contact with him, he was always nice and friendly.

    I would have suspected neither of them of doing these things.

    My point is that there is really no reason for anyone to hate Jews (or, for that matter, Blacks) because of this scandalous incident. The college itself discovered this, and brought it to the attention of the gov’t or police authorities.

    I’m shocked that these two people whom I knew were involved in this, but I have no reason to hate them.

    A serious concern, though, is that if my office were now hiring a physician’s assistant (we are loosely associated with a medical center), I would have to warn them to be very wary if someone comes in with a PA degree from Touro, because about 50 of these were sold and are fraudulent and forged. And as a former employee of Touro, I am upset about that, and I think it’s unfortunate.

  12. Tzum mein teyerer R’ Yoisef,

    Ein Brocho shora ela al mah shenisalem min hoayen. Do darft mir nish mifarsem zein main nomen? Agav, vi azoy hos tu mer derkent? Ver bist du?

    To everyone else, Touro has many campus internationally- including Touro University International, an online University accredited through California State- that enrolls thousands of students (including a large contract with the US military). Technically, then, TUI is an entity unto itself- as Touro College of New York has not achieved University status (requiring three doctoral programs).

    Tzu deizen vos farshteit nisht vos ich meint, mach nisht oiz.

    When I was at Touro the SAT score of all applicants and only waived for international students, who had different academic programs.

    As for not taking the SAT, I can’t speak for the admissions directors. I also graduated in ’94 from Flatbush…

    Efshar Yetz Kenst mir foon dorton?

  13. Joseph-
    23rd street is actually the MAIN campus of Touro college, which includes a large SCAS program on the 3rd floor ( undergraduate classes that DO mostly contain minority groups). Walk up 3 flights to the 6th floor, where you will meet dozens of Health Science students working their kishkes out to get their Master’s degree in physical therapy, occupational therapy, physican assistant etc…Many of those students are heimeshe yidden. I am one of them. Touro is an imperfect institution. As are most. I will give Touro some credit by letting it be known that the above programs are rigourously intense and there is absolutely no shtik involved when it comes to earning a degree in the above professions. I sincerely hope that our community, and the outside world will not form generalizations/ biases when considering hiring a former Touro student.

  14. to berg1119- blogs tend to protect the identity of those who choose to do so. Besides some individuals who seek to expose others identities,
    others such as myself will use former email addresses to establish credibility with the audience. Using some google-searching, it is not a big secret that I worked for Touro and in what capacity. That is no excuse for anyone to expose those indivduals on a blog.

    to flatbush- The admissions office is very acutely aware of the nature of marks, how they are awarded, and the institutions that award them.

    Accordingly, each admissions department (for each site) makes their independent decision based on the program’s particular needs. Vocational programs obviously don’t have the same rigoroue standards as liberal arts programs.

    In sum, each admissions committe evaluates the applicant’s specific applications and credentials through the prism of their highschool and, if need be, their SAT’s etc…

    I hope these comments are “l’toeles horabim” so we can abstain from lashon horah, rchilus, motsei sheim rah. Remember last week’s sedra-
    “lo yachel dvoro”- “lo yaaseh dvorov chulin”.

    Did everyone finish the daf today?

    Let’s make a blog about that.

  15. Teyere Reb Yisroel,

    Zats mich moichel, ich hub nish gevust az di vilst nisht dan numen zult geshriben zein. Di veist mich nisht. Uber azoi vi andere du ich zei oich veist dan numen, ich hub ge-googled dan email in getrufen dan numen.

    BTW I was a freshman in the Fall ’94, not graduated. I began the last partial semester when Touro was still located in the Shulamis building, and then was from the first group of students on Avenue J.

    When I applied, my HS transcripts were requested and submitted. At the time they asked if you took the SAT, and wanted the transcript if you did, but it was not required to have been taken.

    cr – I am aware of that. What I meant was the main offices are also located in 23. (I took a summer semester in 23, when it was still mandatory to do one semester in Manhattan.)

  16. Tzu Reb Yosef-
    Hakol Mochul Loch.
    Efsher kenst tu fartzheilen tzo unzere fraind berg1119 az er zol nisht zain vie zain nomen in “oker horim vtochanon zu b’zu”.
    Du kunst eim auslerner vi azoy tzu nutzin de google search.
    Lointz zach to machen a daf hayomi blog far de alle menschen do vos hot tzu ton mit Touro.
    Mir veisen doch ale as “Tov Torah im deredch eretz sheyigas shneheim mishkchas avon”. Al tikri
    “Touro” ela “Torah” vil Touro mit derech eretz un limud hatorah hot nisht kain zchus kiyum.

    Hachosem L’maan Amolei Btorah, shnischanchu Btouro, Lhagdil TORAH vyaadir, bzman shrotzim game lhagdil TOURO ulhardiro.

  17. My dear former Flatbush graduate,

    Let me clarify your most recent allegations, as well as your previous presumtions.

    As indicated earlier, Touro’s admissions insists on getting sealed transcripts from the registrar’s office of all previous institutions attended before acknoweledging them as official credentials. Therefore, any fabricated or tampered with documents (not sent directly from the prior attended school’s registrar) are not accepted and the student is requested to send the original.

    Regarding your concern of these marks reflecting anything but the student’s actual results is not feasible-given the structure of the Regents high-school diploma of New York and their equivalent in other states. The secondary instituions themselves are bound by very rigorous checks and balances that, when udermined, are noteworthy items (such as the widely advertised scandal of Regents exams stolen in certain New York Yeshivas) whose perpetuators spend time in prison for breaking into secured administrative (registrars offices).

    Insofar as Yeshiva credits are concerned, you are surely aware that this is major based: An accounting major requiring 72 credits in accounting and an additional 30 credits for liberal arts requirements- can only use an additional 18 Yeshiva credits. It should be noted that most of Touro’s graduates are indeed business majors (ranging from 60-72 credits in their major, thus mitigating the impact of their Yeshiva credits).

    Political Science and Psychology majors, on the other hand, are required only 30 credits in their major and the additional 30 credits for the liberal arts requirement. Students pursuing these majors intend to pursue gradudate schooling, as these degrees in and of themselves, aren’t sufficient for employment as Lawyers or Social Work/Psycholgists (the professions that these students pursue). Thus, the emphasis is more on getting clinical training and interships in their field (as well scoring a high score on the boards)to gain admission to these competitive programs: Touro has had much success with their graduate placements, including a recent Harvard Law admissions (and other Ivy League schools, as advertised in the Lander Colleges advertisements).

    And finally, regarding your last allegation that “Touro accepts candidates regardless of their legitemate ACADEMIC credentials”.

    I believe that my previous comment regarding the disctinction between vocational degress, associate degrees, and liberal arts degrees adressed your concern.

    Nonetheless, I will elaborate in more detail.

    Vocational programs you might be familiar with in Boro Park (machon l’parnasah) and other computer programs (on King’s Highway) are part of the SCAS vocational schools. SCAS is the school of applied sciences designed for immigrant populations or those with a limited academic background. These students are not considered “matriculated” students towards a baaculariate (bachelore’s degree). Rather, their degree is one that provides them with the technical skills to obtain employment in their intended profession.

    Once a student completes a vocational or associates degree, they can apply for admission for a bachelor’s degree based on their earned vocational or associates degree. Any insitution of higher education operates this way, not only Touro.

    Admissions for Bachelor’s degrees, on the other hand, must have the relevant academic credentials and a minimum GPA (grade average) from that instituion.

    For those individuals who do not possess the necessary credentials, that include an official high school transcript from an ACCREDITED high- school or college, as well as the SAT boards are not considered for admission.

    Under certain circumstances such as yeshiva boys that have attended authentic(regent diploma confering)Yeshivos and have not taken the SAT yet- there is an option of admission as non-matricluated student. This means that there was no formal admission yet to the program. After two semesters of acceptable (3.0 GPA or above) course work, they can be matriculated or enroute to achieve Bachelors degrees as fully admitted students.

    In sum, your general statement of “accepts candidates” without “ACADEMIC creddentials” must be qualified by the degree program on the one hand (vocational vs. bachelor’s degree) and the level of amdission (matric vs. non matric) on the other.

    To allay any further misconceptions and preconcieved notions about the recent scandal, please note that the former admissions director administrated the SCAS program primarily and was not involved with the Lander Colleges for men and women in Fltbush, Queens, and Manhattan:
    These diplomas state “Lander College of Liberal Arts and Sciences”- denoting a Bachelor’s status.

    The senior and staff administration of the Lander Colleges, with who I worked very intimately for five years, are “anoshim ksheirim vshleimim” who would never falsify or tamper with records to create “shtoros m’zyofos”: As indicated previously the Accreditation of Middlestates, through which Touro is accredited in New York, thoroughly ensures that the highest standards are maintained for continued accreditation.

    Likewise, students holding the Lander diplomas can be rest assured that they are in possession of legitemate degree- which was earned honorably.

    As we approach T’Sha B’av and try to do Teshuva for the source of destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, “sinas chinam”- please remember the Rambam in Hilchos Ta’anis that explains the purpose of all tanesim (particuarly this one) is “lo’rer libom laasos teshuvah” and think of constructive ways for “kabala al heosid” for future resolutions (rambam- hilchos teshuvah).

    The first steps for Teshuva are recognizingthe aviero and “charoto” in feeling bad about it.

    The chofetz chaim in his many seforim on Shmiras Haloshon elaborates on the tens of isurim (D’orayso and D’rabonon)one violates when spreading r’chilus and motsei sheim ra on anyone, ie, even if it was true- al achos kama vkama if it wasn’t true/

    In these blogs it would be nice to see everyone showing ahavas yisroel and not make inciteful statements- many of which are stam to tcheper, “al minas l’kanter” like many of the anti-charedi sites that abound.

    It then behooves us a B’nei Torah many of who, and/or wife and/or children, have Parnossah through Touro College- many of them on significant scholarships Touro offered to be “makir tov” and appreciate the value of being self sufficient and earning Parnosah with dignity.

    The Ramban sees Hakoras Hatov as something natural a person should feel (and thus not even a formal Mitzvah); Not ackonowledging the chesed someone does with you prevents one from feeling Hashem’s chesed with him and is some form of Kefira. Hence, the repitition of emunah on “l’maan tizkiru ki eved hoyiso beertez mitzrayim”.

    As fellow Bnei Torah it would be appropriate to communicate with eachother on a higher standard:
    “Chachomim Hizoharu B’divrecheim” that propheticaly predicts “shemo tochovoo GOLUS”.

    In the zechus of Hakoras Hatov to those who are mischased with us may we all be zoche to the levels of bitachon needed, and refrain from the very source of sinas chinam that led to the churban, may we all be zoche to witness the bias hamoshiach bmhero.

    “rotzoh hashem…”

    Kadish anyone? Let’s end this session…