SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Cal Poly says failing grades were removed from Kristin Smart's transcripts Friday.
Smart was a freshman at Cal Poly when she disappeared in May of 1996. Her body was never found, but she was declared legally dead in 2002.
Community members had taken to social media in recent weeks, asking the university to change her transcripts. They said she had been given failing grades in her classes because she didn't show up for final exams after she went missing.
A change.org petition was even launched and had more than 4,000 signatures.
On Friday, our newsroom reached out to Cal Poly to see if the university was taking any action to change her transcripts.
Within hours, the university told us that her transcripts had been changed to "W's" to reflect "withdrawn."
The university released a statement to our newsroom explaining the process.
"University policy states that the Registrar's Office can make necessary changes to a student's transcript after receiving official notice of a student's death. However, in the years immediately following her disappearance, Kristin Smart was not legally considered deceased. As such, the university took no action with her final transcripts. Even after she was declared legally dead, the Registrar's Office never received an official notice. Therefore, her final transcripts remained unchanged. However, upon learning of this, the university's senior leadership immediately instructed the Registrar's Office to make the necessary changes. As of today, Kristin's final transcripts have been changed to "W's" to reflect "withdrawn."Matt Lazier, Cal Poly Spokesman
Orcutt native Chris Lambert highlighted the grades issue in his podcast about the case, Your Own Backyard. He said he is glad for the change.
"It seemed like an oversight to me," he said. "It seemed like something that should have been corrected early on. For a number of reasons it wasn't."
Likewise, community members say the change has been a long time coming.
Anny Ashbrook of Arroyo Grande is a parent of college-age students. "I think it's a little bit of salt in the wound," she said of the failing grades.
Other community members would like to see Cal Poly go a step further.
"It would be nice to see something more, maybe a monument, a bench," said Jim Philson, a San Luis Obispo County resident who has been following the case.
He said he would also like to see "an awareness program for incoming freshmen, especially the women."
We reached out to the Smart family, but they do not yet have a statement.
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