The man in the middle of a college-admissions scandal that sought to get the children of wealthy parents into elite colleges by cheating on tests and faking athletic credentials also reportedly gave families the option of misrepresenting their race.
Two people familiar with the situation told The Wall Street Journal for a report published Saturday that William Singer, a college guidance counselor who has pleaded guilty to four crimes, allegedly told some families to lie about being racial minorities.
A son of Marjorie Klapper, who is expected to plead guilty in connection with the scheme, was reportedly falsely listed as being black and Hispanic on his Common Application. Singer also arranged for a proctor for the ACT to cheat on the standardized test for the teenager.
The Common Application includes an optional box where applicants can note their race or ethnicity.
One of the people familiar with the investigation told The Journal that Klapper was one of many parents charged whose child was falsely represented as a person of color.
Singer reportedly informed families that not listing their child as minorities could put them at a “competitive disadvantage.”
The scheme appears to have sought to exploit the hot-button issue in college admissions over whether a student’s race should factor into their acceptance to colleges and universities.
A person familiar with the scheme told The Journal some applicants claimed to be minorities based on a questionable connection, such as a distant relative of Native American ancestry. Another person said the Klapper family knew the boxes indicating black and Hispanic were improperly checked.
The newspaper noted that while lying on college applications may not be a crime, schools can take disciplinary action over the false statements. The parents ensnared by the investigation face charges related to bribery or test-cheating.
Stefanie Niles, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, told The Journal colleges rely on applicants to be honest when applying to college, as it could be difficult to catch students who misrepresent their race.
“You could have a student who looks white but who is multiracial,” she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen detailed Singer’s schemes in March, including “lying about students’ ethnicities and other biographical information in an attempt to take advantage of perceived benefits from affirmative action and other programs.”
The college guidance counselor responded at that hearing that “everything that Mr. Rosen stated is exactly true.”
Klapper is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Prosecutors allege she paid Singer $15,000 to have a proctor take the ACT for her son in October 2017. The son received a score of 30 out of a possible 36.