9OYS Education Alert
PCC controversy update: Accediting commission is sending team to investigate
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima Community College -0 a pillar in Southern Arizona higher education -- is in harassment hot water.
The accrediting body, the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission, sent a letter to the interim Chancellor on Wednesday stating it's sending in investigators to look into the recent controversies that continue to plague the school.
PCC isn't dodging the issue with the media. In fact, the Chancellor's office sent 9OYS a copy of the letter and the board chairman, Scott Stewart, sent 9OYS an email saying he was available for an interview.
"I'm looking forward to somebody outside and neutral coming in to investigate," said Stewart.
The governing board chairman told KGUN9 that he's ready and willing to cooperate. The acceditor's letter indicates that a team will further investigate the complaints of sexual harrassent by the college's former chancellor Roy Flores.
KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked Stewart if he believed that any of these allegations could possibly be true. He answered, "Yes. Possibly. Yes."
But here's the issue. In July, interim chancellor, Dr. Suzanne Miles, sent a letter to the commission stating Flores denied any wrongdoing. And after an internal investigation by the college, Dr. Miles stated that the allegations of sexual harrassment, as well as mishandling of spending, were in part politically motivated.
Stewart said, "I think a good part is politically motivated. I think there are some really legitimate complaints in there. I know we've had some weaknesses in our contracting that need to be addressed."
The commission stated a number of people came foward challenging the truthfulness and accuracy of chancellor's Miles responses to the allegations. And the letter indicated that's the primary reason behind the commission's upcoming fact-finding visit.
Stewart says the stakes are high. Cavazos asked him if he was worried that a negative outcome could affect PCC's accreditation. "Yes, accreditation is the name of the game." He said colleges need the acceditation for students to be eligible for financial aid.
But stewart believes worse case scenario the commission would require more monitoring of the college's policies and procedures. The letter indicates that as well.
The letter gives a tentative date of the visit -- the week of January 21st. But Stewart wants to push up that date to sometime in December. He wants the current five board members to be involved in the process.