Tuesday, September 11, 2012

NWACC on Denying Marty Parsons Appeal Plea

Photo of Wrongfully Fired NWACC CFO, Marty Parsons (A Good Guy!)

What service does the NWACC board serve, then, if they continue turning a blind eye to all the corruption, fear, and intimidation perpetrated by the top CEOs at NWACC and leaving them unchecked to carry on?  Where is everybody whose job it is to reel these crooks in?  If it's not the board, then who is it?  The Arkansas Department of Higher Education, then?  And where might these people be?  Below is the article published to NWA Online concerning Marty Parsons' appeal denial.  Truly disgraceful.

HOW WE SEE IT: Board Right To Deny Appeal Plea

Posted: September 10, 2012 at 2:56 a.m.

The decision by trustees at NorthWest Arkansas Community College to reject a request for an appeal hearing for the college’s fired financial officer does little to settle the questions observers have about the entire situation. But it was the right call. Marty Parsons is the former senior vice president for administrative services and fi nancial offcer for the college. He was fired Aug. 1 by the college’s president, Becky Paneitz.
Parsons’ two-year stint in the role came to an end when Paneitz determined he overstepped his bounds by contacting trustees directly on issues, including criticism of her. According to Parsons’ personnel records, he had been counseled on a number of shortcomings and given an opportunity to correct them. By Aug. 1, Paneitz had enough. His request to argue his case to the full board went nowhere. Two trustees supported the appeal, but six deemed it to be none of their business. Based on advice from their lawyer, board members steered clear of second-guessing the only employee who directly reports to them, Paneitz.

Board member Hadley Hindmarsh, in an email, argued for the appeal because of public scrutiny and at least the possibility evidence derived from an appeal could adversely affect the college president. That, she suggested, represented the potential conflict of interest board policy required before an appeal should be granted. Giving Parsons an appeal would have made for a good deal of drama and it might have been very interesting to watch, but the board has established its job isn’t to run the day-to-day aft airs of the institution. They hire a president for that. Institutions such as the community college are seldom well-served by a board wanting to substitute its managerial judgment for that of the leader hired to take care of such matters. No doubt a hearing would have given Parsons a venue to re-assert his criticism of Paneitz. We cannot today suggest he does or doesn’t have any legitimate gripes, but we can recognize a micromanaging board isn’t a workable scenario for the college.

At one point, trustee Mark Lundy, chairman of the Finance Audit Committee, said Parsons did a good job by bringing some financial matters to light. “He really raised the expectation that there should be sunlight in the finance (department),” Lundy said. “I think he really moved us ahead on some things.” But Lundy voted against the appeal because he knows the right thing to do is for the board to entrust the president with decision-making authority on personnel matters. If the board doesn’t like what that leader has done, the board can always respond with clear, policy-oriented direction or by picking someone else to serve as president.

The board should pay close attention to what’s happening within the college and give clear direction to its president to carry out what’s necessary to meet students’ needs. But if the board considers it kosher to step into the president’s shoes regularly, there will be relatively few qualified candidates ready to take the post when Paneitz retires next year. The lawsuit will probably come, but that will place the matter exactly where such a dispute should be: in an impartial judicial hearing.
Opinion, Pages 5 on 09/10/2012


"This unsigned opinion piece is the lamest attempt at devil's advocated faux 'realism' I've seen in my 50+ years and falls directly on par with what I would expect from the want-to-be spin doctors at our local community college. The Northwest Arkansas community can read and has read the official documents attached to the Parsons termination. Parsons was not counseled on issues and given 30 days. The memorandum was handed to him just after he refused to sign the typical resignation document (yes, another past CFO has confirmed same treatment at bullied 'resignation') and was consequently fired. There should be no appeal for appeal. That's non-sensical. Hearing the facts of Parsons wrongful termination is a rightful action of anyone with a boss. If a decision is made based on fear of floodgates for appeals opening at the hands of Paneitz's former direct reports, there's an issue. If this is in student/taxpayer best interest, the APPROPRIATE avenue was to manage the problem (Paneitz) not drag the institution into it. Great job. I would bet the farm this shallow oped came as a direct result of a plea from community college leaders. Again, lame."
Posted by: becauseicare
September 10, 2012 at 6:38 a.m.

"I have been reading about this issue in your paper since it began. I don't think the board considering Marty Parsons' appeal would rise to the level of a "micromanaging board". As you state the board's job is to hire a president to manage the day to day affairs of the college; you miss the point, however, in thinking that Marty Parsons' situation is a day to day affair. He was not a secretary or a janitor, he was the senior vice president for administrative services and the financial officer of the college. Since it is the responsibility of the board to hire a president, it seems it should also be the responsibility of the board to evaluate the president's performance, and determine if the president is acting in the best interests of the college. Stating that a lawsuit is the place where such matters should be seems like a reckless and irresponsible conclusion. Lawsuits benefit lawyers more than anyone else usually. It is a sad day when an organization's entire plan to deal with an issue such as this is to turn it into a lawsuit; there is almost always a waste of resources when a lawsuit is involved, and should only be resorted to when there is no other option. I guess I am confused about what the board's role actually is then? There have been, in the past, considerable funds spent at this college to provide dedicated meeting space for the board--space was actually converted from revenue-generating classrooms to a meeting room for the board; why? What is the board's purpose and where would someone in Marty Parsons' position go if he believes there are unresolved issues with the president's performance or how his personnel matters are being handled? Is there no one who has followed Enron, WorldCom, and our country's most recent financial crisis enough to realize that endorsing an organizational structure that has no checks or balances on powerful managers can be very dangerous. I can't imagine that the most efficient, ideal outcome can be a lawsuit. Maybe the school should convert the board's meeting space back to classrooms so it can generate some more revenue to cover the cost of the lawsuit. If the editorial staff thinks that potential presidential candidates will give pause to a board that would have granted (or even considered, by reviewing the evidence) this appeal, think what a presidential candidate will think when the school is involved with a lawsuit of this nature instead! I don't really see how this matter could be considered a regular matter subject to the risk of micromanagement? Also, it was the only remedy offered per the college's policies and procedures. Why is it even offered as the next step in the personnel policies if it is not the board's role? I think the board just doesn't want to be involved because this community is very intertwined and its members possibly worry about repercussions to their own livelihoods? Not sure. But I guarantee a lawsuit will cost everybody money."
Posted by: FreedomAtLast
September 10, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.

"Sounds like the president doesn't want the financial matters to be transparent."
Posted by: Vickie55 
September 10, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.

"I haven't seen where his personnel records have been released for public review for anyone to state that he was counseled. If that is in fact true, where is the documentation or another official at the University who can support those claims? NWACC is truly the only place I have ever heard of where the President has full control over all employees with no accountability for her actions. Is her to plan to leave the college in such disarray that going forward everyone's opinion will be that she was irreplaceable? All of the taxpayers should be concerned."
Posted by: katwilldan
September 10, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.

"OoH, Please, ME ME ME! ... let me be the first to step up and pay more for the college's lawyers to welcome a completely avoidable lawsuit. Can this STINK get any worse??? What an awful system of fear, and intimidation we have in place at NWACC. I believe that I am not alone in demanding that our elected board do more than just show up at staged meetings... that they will hear the cries for accountability and transparency and re-write whatever policy that allows this president to make wreckless decisions - unchallenged."
Posted by: MrLowell
September 10, 2012 at 3:07 p.m.

"I can't offer anything new to what has been said by others comments, but I can't sit still either after reading this article, which sure seems to have spin doctor involvement. This whole situation is an outrage! In no case, in an institution that uses public money, should one individual be the sole authority. This is the sort of thing that went on in the past and we, as southerners, are still trying to change that perception. Aren't we past the "good ol' boy" practices of the past? As stated before, "If the board doesn’t like what that leader has done, the board can always respond with clear, policy-oriented direction or by picking someone else to serve as president." But how can these issues be brought to light when apparently there is no mechanism to communicate with the board to present concerns or irregularities? The board needs to act NOW to remove Becky Paneitz and put a "checks and balances" system in place. No one's professional or financial future should be subjected to the whim of one person."
Posted by: AR_taxpayer
September 10, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.

"Board WRONG to deny appeal plea. I feel let down by the recent happenings at NWACC. I'm concerned for the future of our college. I hope that everyone in our community is aware that all nine trustee positions are up for election this November 6, 2012. "Six deemed it to be none of their business". Waiting ever-so patiently for the truth to come out."
Posted by: seeksthetruth
September 10, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.

"I think the college is a great provider to the community despite its leadership. Translation: I do not believe its top leadership has a thing to do with its success. I believe they more than likely battle every day to push initiatives through and accomplish goals for the students, faculty and staff. This situation makes me wonder what the top leader has on a few keep officials to keep their support of her so blind and emphatic. There's a story there. Mark my words. Find the most vocal staunch supporters at the top and start there."
Posted by: jddendinger
September 11, 2012 at 5:41 a.m.

"Before making such a bold statement as "Board Right to Deny Appeal Plea", perhaps the public interest would have been better served by determining if the NWACC Board of Trustees has operated outside their policy governance model in other decision making.  If that has occurred, wouldn't that render the theme of this editorial a moot point? Let's help you get started... Example 1: Enrollment Drop Forces Budget Scrutiny"
By Amye Buckley
Posted: September 11, 2012 at 3:32 a.m.

"w Reclassified one position and added another under Path to Accelerated Completion and Employment, a federal grant." How is "reclassified one position" policy governance?"
Posted by: SoJami
September 11, 2012 at 9:16 a.m.

1 comment:

  1. The way NWACC treated Marty Parsons isn't new. This is how they treat anyone who raises questions to them about their corrupt practices.