FOI at Work!
The Richmond Times-Dispatch struggled to obtain records from the Virgina Commonwealth University on Rodney Monroe, the former Richmond police chief who received a degree despite not meeting qualifications. FERPA stood in the way. However, because the police department funded his coursework, some data was available under FOIA. Records show that VCU administrators only briefly mentioned via e-mail that Monroe had not met the requirement to earn 25 percent of credit from courses at VCU.
It was no secret that he took only two courses at Virginia Commonwealth University. Rodney Monroe, then Richmond's police chief, publicly spoke of that shortly before he graduated in 2007.
But far less apparent were how lapses in judgment and university procedures combined to allow him to get that diploma even though he fell far short of requirements for his bachelor's degree.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch used the Freedom of Information Act to help determine what courses Monroe had taken, how much the Richmond Police Department paid for his courses, and to provide insight into internal communications leading up to the approval of his degree.