Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SMC's Wrongful Alteration of My School Transcripts

On or about November 22, 2005, I emailed AET Professor Jeannie Novak, requesting that I receive the full 3 units of credit for her ET 42 Game Development course. On or about December 29, 2005, I received a response from Jeff Shimizu, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Monica College. Shimizu denied my request. In pertinent part, he wrote the following:

The number of units awarded for each course is determined through the institutional curriculum approval process and is not at the discretion of any individual or department. The Academy programs recently completed an extensive faculty review resulting in numerous official changes to the curriculum, which were all subject to the curriculum review process.

As part of that process, the department proposed a change in content and the number of units assigned to ET 42. This change was approved April 6, 2005 triggering implementation in Fall 2005 for all students. The number of units awarded for a course is based upon the number of in-class contact hours, not the amount of work completed by the student.

When there is a significant change to a course in content or units, it is considered a different course even if the prefix and number remain the same.

Now, there are several issues I have with Jeff Shimizu's response. First, under the California Public Records Act, SMC has failed to provide all the vital records pertaining to the curriculum review for its Academy of Entertainment and Technology program. Second, and most important, is his last sentence: "When there is a significant change to a course in content or units, it is considered a different course even if the prefix and number remain the same." [emphasis added]. If this is the case, then why did SMC wrongfully alter my online Santa Monica College school transcripts?

Remember in our blog article "
How AET Manipulates its Curriculum & Certificates," we discussed how SMC changed its ET 12 course title from "Principles of Interactive Design" to "Principles of Web Design." ET 12 was also knocked down from 3 units to only 1 unit. Additionally, SMC turned the 3 unit ET 42 Game Development course to a 1 unit course, thus depriving me of the two additional units despite the fact that I clocked in a total of 20 semester hours, well over the hours justifying the 3 units I requested. Finally, SMC changed the course name for ET 13 several times. In Spring 2006, it was called "Game Authoring I." You can refer to our handy AET Curriculum Chart to see the changes.

Now, I took ET 12 in Spring 2003, the course was titled "Principles of Interactive Design." When I took ET 13 in Spring 2004, it was called "Interactive Design for CD-ROM, And Interactive Entertainment I." Here's the two respective screenshots from SMC's Schedule of Classes:

SMC's AET ET 12 Course for Spring 2003 SemesterSMC's AET ET 13 Course for Spring 2004 Semester

Now, remember Shimizu was part of the AET curriculum review and he also stated that these courses are now considered new courses. However, here's the screenshots from my online SMC transcripts:

My SMC ET 12 Course for Spring 2003 Semester My SMC ET 13 Course for Spring 2004 Semester

Notice that the titles of the courses I took, ET 12 and ET 13 respectively, do not reflect the actual names that were given in the SMC Schedule of Classes for each semester. Instead, these are the names that were assigned to these "different" classes as Jeff Shimizu alleges. So, again, I ask: If these are in fact different courses, one of which has less units, then why did someone at SMC go wrongfully go into my SMC transcripts and alter these names?

On or about August 8, 2005, I emailed Kiersten Elliot, Assistant Dean of Enrollment Services at Santa Monica College. I wrote in pertinent part the following:

Fourth, since you brought up my online SMC unofficial transcripts, those have been tampered with as well as someone has gone in and changed the name of several of my courses which I took at the Academy of Entertainment & Technology. I can give you a list upon request.

Now, pursuant to your title as Assistant Dean of Enrollment Services, I assume that you have both some expertise and authority in this kind of matter. So, could you please tell me who has access to get into my transcripts, faculty server, and homepage and courses to cause such damage to my academic records? Surely there are lists at SMC of who has authorization to make these kinds of blatant changes without my permission or without justification. Where do we begin to rectify this situation before it escalates further? This is a very serious matter which I do not take lightly.

Please respond at your earliest convenience.

Of course Ms. Elliot never responded to my email. So, on or about August 16, 2005, Dustin Curran and I took a visit to Kiersten Elliot's office at SMC. Here's the gist of our conversation:

MANTTARI: So someone's gone in now and changed the names of some of courses at the Academy to different names. So that isn't done automatically. Someone had to go in and input that. Who does that?

ELLIOT: That could be Katharine Muller since she works at the Academy and is overseeing the Academy.

MANTTARI: And she can actually go into your transcripts?

ELLIOT: No, no one should be doing that. That's why I don't understand how that could have happened as well. But it certainly isn't our office doing that.

Well, Kiersten Elliot never bothered to pursue the matter. No one at SMC ever contacted me back about this wrongful modification of my school records. At the time, I was not aware of SMC's manipulation of its Entertainment Technology Curriculum. Clearly, these apparently are not different courses or SMC doesn't care and simply wants to give me retroactive credit for courses I apparently never took.

How does this hurt us as students? AET can use the new courses for force students to switch certificates from the old ones to one of their pending new ones. For example, these two AET courses were part of the requirements for a certificate in Interactive Media. Now, one is part of the pending Web Design certificate while the other is part of the allegedly pending Game Development certificate. Also, the UC system is very selective about transfer credits. A great many of AET's courses are not UC transferable. Changing the names to new courses may set a student back even further.

Did Katharine Muller in fact have a hand in this manipulation as Elliot alleges? Given her creative refinancing of federal funds and her part in the deliberate concealment of public records, it may be possible. Perhaps David Javelosa, Bill Lancaster, and Jeff Shimizu also played their respective roles in this transcript manipulation. What is clear is that if SMC did this to my school records, they also did this to other students at the Academy of Entertainment & Technology. I would highly suggest checking your transcripts online at your earliest convenience. Finally, given SMC's retroactive renaming of the ET 12 and ET 13 courses, logic would follow that I do deserve the full 3 units for ET 42. We shall see what Jeff Shimizu now does about this injustice or what excuses he will hide under.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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