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Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

At many colleges and universities in the United States, cheating is a serious matter. It can lead to a multitude of punishments, including expulsion.

However, under a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, helping a student cheat could land the accused in criminal court.

Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, has introduced House Bill 1733, which creates the crime of “academic fraud.”

The bill is aimed at eliminating fraud by employees of colleges and universities in response to allegation at schools outside the state that employees were fraudulently helping student athletes with their coursework.

This led to the NCAA updating its academic integrity policy for the first time in more than 30 years, Kinsey wrote in a co-sponsorship letter.

“One impetus for the NCAA’s action was a scathing 2014 report on academic fraud at the University of North Carolina,” he wrote. “The report detailed an 18-year scheme in which about 3,000 students — many of whom were athletes — enrolled in classes involving little or no faculty involvement or academic work. Furthermore, the report found academic counselors worked with professors to negotiate the grades needed for student athletes to maintain academic eligibility.”

HB 1773 criminalizes placing student athletes in “no-show” classes and other activity meant to fraudulently maintain a student’s athletic eligibility.

The bill, however, could go much farther and make it a felony if a person assists “a student or offers or attempts to assist a student in obtaining or attempting to obtain, by fraudulent means, an academic credit, grade or test score or transcript, diploma, certificate or other instrument purporting to confer a degree in a course of study from an institution of higher education in this commonwealth.”

It would also be a felony to provide a fraudulent grade, academic credit or test score “in exchange for a good or service, thing of value or money.”

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Email Joshua Vaughn at Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.


Cops & Courts Reporter

Crime & Courts Reporter at The Sentinel.