- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - The former U.S. Justice Department official conducting an investigation into academic misconduct at North Carolina will release his report Wednesday, the university announced Monday.

Kenneth Wainstein has been investigating the causes of fraud in the school’s formerly named Department of African and Afro-American Studies since February, including problems in classes with significant athlete enrollments.

The school said that Wainstein will present his findings to the school’s board of trustees as well as the board that oversees the state’s public university system. Wainstein will then hold a news conference with UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and system president Tom Ross.

In an open letter posted on the school’s web site Monday, Folt said she would also hold a town-hall event to hear from faculty, staff and students Wednesday evening.

“The last few years have been difficult for our community,” she wrote. “I believe this report will allow us to have a complete picture of what happened at Carolina and build on the numerous reforms we have already put in place.”

A probe by former Gov. Jim Martin in 2012 found problems in the department dating to the 1990s, including lecture classes that didn’t meet and were instead treated as independent studies requiring a research paper at semester’s end. There were also reports of unauthorized grade changes and possibly forged signatures on grade rolls.

That report, along with a previous university inquiry, directed blame at former chairman Julius Nyang’oro and retired administrator Deborah Crowder. Neither had cooperated with earlier school investigations but have both met with Wainstein several times.

Nyang’oro was indicted in December on a felony fraud charge for being paid to teach one of the no-show lecture classes. Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall dismissed that charge over the summer because Nyang’oro had cooperated with his investigation as well as the one run by Wainstein.

When the school hired Wainstein, it said he would “take any further steps necessary to address any questions left unanswered” in previous reviews about how irregularities took place. As of June, Wainstein said he and his staff had interviewed 80 people, searched about 1.5 million emails and reviewed records involving thousands of students going as far back to the 1980s.

Wainstein has also shared information with the NCAA, which said in June that it had reopened its earlier investigation into academic misconduct at the school. The NCAA initially was focused on improper benefits within the football program when it launched its probe in summer 2010, though the investigation soon expanded to academic violations involving a tutor providing too much help on research papers.

The NCAA sanctioned the football program in March 2012, including scholarship reductions and a 1-year postseason ban that ultimately kept UNC out of that season’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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