At Long Last, An “Audit” Of Sorts

We have been calling for an independent investigation into the misconduct at NCVPS for well over a year, and no one in North Carolina state government has shown any interest in taking up the cause.  It is demoralizing to watch our appointed and elected representatives stand by while contractors take money from our citizens for work they did not do, bureaucrats destroy evidence of illegal activity and condone unethical practices rather than set an appropriate standard of conduct, and teachers lie to parents and slander a student to cover their own tracks.  Unfortunately, we cannot report success in having the misconduct at NCVPS independently investigated.

We are, however, finally in receipt of a long-awaited internal audit report from the Department of Public Instruction that claims to have looked into the misconduct at NCVPS.  To set the stage, DPI did not bother to initiate this audit until well after our allegations of plagiarism in the APUSH course (we estimate over a year later).  In the interim, NCVPS executives Eliz Colbert and Michelle Lourcey oversaw the destruction of the plagiarized course materials, so the auditor did not look at the course as it existed when it was opened to students.  (As an aside, we offered our copies of the original course notes to both the NC State Auditor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but neither official ever responded to us.)  In any event, the DPI auditor reviewed the course notes after NCVPS’ second set of contractors made revisions to the course.  Even so, DPI concluded that 73% of the content was copied word-for-word from other websites.  Nonetheless, DPI refuses to call this misconduct plagiarism.  They are sticking to their “missing citation” story, as if citing a work that comprises 73% of your submission makes it alright.  Would teachers accept this from students? We certainly hope not! But Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson thinks it is just fine.

The high level findings of this audit are that NCVPS suffered from:

  • Difficulties with recruitment and retention of trained developers
  • Insufficient monitoring of development teams
  • Excessive use of course notes taken from external sources
  • Inconsistent use of procedural methodology and course development documents
  • Ineffective reviews of course content

Oddly, the auditor gives NCVPS management an endorsement despite this laundry list of completely avoidable faults.  The auditor claims that NCVPS executives were unaware of the plagiarism, even though the audit found the course 73% plagiarized after Colbert and Lourcey personally hired  developers to “fix” the course.  It seems that no one in DPI is capable of honest, quality work.

More to come as we dissect this audit in future posts, including explaining how the NCVPS Executive response was largely written as revisionist history many months before the audit report was written!