College Admissions Scandal
Federal authorities recently announced 50 indictments on conspiracy charges in relation to a higher education admissions scandal. Documents released by the U.S. attorney describe how wealthy parents paid to ensure their children’s admission to prestigious universities including the University of Southern California, the University of California Los Angeles, University Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Georgetown University, Yale University, and the University of San Diego.
To date, more than 30 parents have been charged for paying up to $6.5 million in exchange for either their child’s admission into college, recruitment onto a college sports team – regardless of athletic ability, or help getting good scores on college admissions exams such as the SAT and ACT. Many are now concerned that wealthy advantage is threatening the meritocracy of college admissions.
College Admissions, Entrance Exams, and Athletic Recruitment
The indictment includes charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and bribery – all means by which wealthy families used money to gain a competitive advantage for their children. Parents, athletic coaches, and exam administrators are all implicated in the nationwide scandal involving:
“Side Door” Admissions – Witnesses describe the process of side door admissions whereby wealthy parents pay to get their children admitted into elite schools, regardless of their grades, test scores, or abilities. It is an alternative to “back door” admissions (otherwise known as institutional advancement), which can cost millions of dollars and is not guaranteed.
Fake Test Scores – Several exam administrators have been charged with facilitating cheating on college entrance exams. Parents were allegedly instructed to request extra time for their children to take their exams due to purported learning disabilities. Then, they were allegedly told to request a change of location for the exam to one of two test centers where test administrators allowed a third party to either take the student’s exam, provide the student with the correct answers, or correct the student’s answers after they completed their exam.
False Athletic Profiles – Information obtained through wiretap reveals that parents created false athletic profiles for their children and paid for their children’s recruitment onto college athletic teams through disguised donations to charitable foundations. As many as 13 coaches have been charged for their involvement in the conspiracy.
Who Was Aware of the Deals?
Many students involved in the alleged bribes claim to have had no knowledge of their parent’s arrangements. The universities named in the documents have also denied any knowledge of the schemes and are currently cooperating with the Department of Justice in its investigation. Several employees and coaches have been terminated and many of the universities implicated are launching their own investigations into the matter.
The executive director for educational content and policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling says that each institution must follow its own protocol for such high-profile scandals. Schools may wish to reach out to students who were unaware of the bribery to offer support or other necessary accommodations. The executive director also suggests that given the public nature of this incident, institutions may also wish to communicate their intended response to the entire student body to ensure campus-wide understanding.
For more information on how to protect your rights as a university, contact the Chester County education law attorneys at The MacMain Law Group LLC through our online contact form or call us at 484-318-7106. From our office in Malvern, Pennsylvania, our experienced lawyers counsel and represent educational institutions throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
New Judicial Rules Cast Increased Scrutiny on Judges
A June 2018 Report of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group indicated a need for additional ethical guidance regarding harassment in the courtroom and the conduct of judges and staff members. Based on this report and the changes proposed, effective March 12, 2019, the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial Disability Proceedings were revised.
The revisions require judges to practice civility, patience, dignity, respectfulness, and courteousness when dealing with court personnel and staff. It further spells out that judges should not harass any court personnel, and/or retaliate against them.
Recently, there have been a series of cases involving poor judge behavior. A judge from Brevard County, Florida became so enraged with the public defender that he challenged him to a brawl that ensued in the hallway outside the courtroom. This was captured on video and posted on YouTube. Eighteen months later, the Florida Supreme Court removed him from the bench.
Several videos have surfaced on the internet in the recent years due to the prevalence of smart phones and social media. Our judicial system is under increased scrutiny from the perception that judges are behaving unfairly or being abusive. The revised Judicial Rules provide additional guidance to ensure that courtrooms remain places where justice is dispensed.
The job of judging is highly stressful. Judges are under increasing pressure to resolve their cases within a tight timeline. The nature of litigation is antagonistic, where each party utilizes aggressive legal tactics that require judges to be vigilant and referee acutely to ensure a fair proceeding. Judges in our society bear the responsibility of maintaining decorum in the courtroom. They share the greater burden of ensuring faith and credibility of our justice system, and sometimes need to go to extra lengths to remain fair and balanced.
Judges are required to know and keep up with complex legal theories and case law. The complexity of the legal field can be intellectually taxing. Judges must face high levels of stress and pressure, which can also lead to burn out. These new rules hope to provide further guidelines and code of conduct to help judges continue to maintain fairness and decorum in the courtroom.
Our attorneys at The MacMain Law Group LLC are experienced in representing judicial officers. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County. To learn more about our services contact us online or call 484-318-7106 for an initial consultation.
Many small businesses are discovering the advantages of using employment contracts when hiring key employees. These agreements between employers and employees set the conditions of employment and often include details relating to compensation, benefits, work hours, and job responsibilities. Employers can benefit from entering into employment agreements with executive employees and professional and administrative staff. Employment contracts can be particularly helpful in providing protection for sensitive matters, limiting competition with other companies, and retaining important employees.
Employees may have access to proprietary information, including trade secrets, which employers may want to protect from widespread distribution. Employment contracts can specify the confidentiality of certain information and limit the disclosure of this material. With an employment agreement, employers also can specifically control what information an employee can use if they leave the company.
Intellectual property created by an employee on behalf of a company can be protected by ensuring through an employment contract that the business, and not the employee, owns the copyrighted or trademarked material. The use of an invention assignment clause is another important way to protect a company’s intellectual property assets. This type of contract provision specifies a company will own any invention created by an employee using the company’s equipment, facilities, trade secrets, supplies, or other resources.
In many industries, it remains a good business practice for employers to limit competition by restricting where former employees may work in the future. Employment agreements can contain non-compete clauses, in which an employee agrees not to work for a competitor over a certain period or within a certain geographical area. Another common clause used in these contracts is a non-solicitation agreement, which requires the employee to agree not to solicit future business from the employer’s customers or other company employees.
By having uniquely qualified employees sign employment contracts detailing incentives for ongoing employment, employers often retain these individuals. Employment contracts sometimes list details regarding how termination of employment will be handled. Some employers include at-will clauses, allowing either party to end the relationship at any time.
Drafting Enforceable Employment Contracts
Term and conditions typically found in employment agreements include the identification of the parties, effective date of the contract, description of the type and term of employment, responsibilities and duties of both parties, details related to how notices of action will be made, ongoing job requirements related to professional licensure issues, work hours, and the method for handling future disputes. To ensure an employment agreement adequately protects the rights of all parties and complies with federal and state laws, employers should consult with an experienced business lawyer for assistance in drafting these documents.
Under certain circumstances, employee handbooks or an exchange of letters between an employee and employer during the hiring process can be found to be an informal contract.
With offices conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the experienced Philadelphia business lawyers at The MacMain Law Group LLC represent businesses and employers throughout Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania. To schedule a confidential consultation today, call us at 484-318-7106 or submit an online inquiry form.