Friday, August 30, 2013

NWACC Fraud - Student Count, Funding, and Course Offerings

It was a privilege to work for NWACC as a full-time faculty member for almost a decade. I can tell the community that I believe most faculty at the community college have student interest at heart and are wonderful. The faculty are in large part hired through committee  recommendation. These committees are full of educators and community business men and women in the field. In contrast, the vast majority or all the administration of the college is following a dictatorship type model of hiring practices that do not effectively support educators and there responsibilities to students. I know this as a fact. It was evident in my many years at the college that students do not have a fair opportunity to finish a degree for so many reasons. 

One reason, low enrollment which is a fact for many departments at the community college. This low enrollment causes classes to be cancelled and sometimes eliminated from a degree program. The college does not notify the public of these degree course changes / deletions thereby changing or even taking away a student's right to a successful path to either graduate or proceed in a timely manner to earn a degree. As a full-time faculty for a decade at NWACC we were given the charge to fill our classes with students to essentially meet a quota. This demand was spear headed by the President of the college, Becky Paneitz, and her administrative VP's, such as Steven Gates, and the deans. 

Students of the college are advised inappropriately and often times by people with no background in degree programs at NWACC. Conclusion, the college has evolved into a business model with no regard for education as a top priority. Enrollment is also misrepresented by the college leadership. All you have to do is stroll down the halls and view dead space of the facilities throughout each and every week. The equitable funding plea of the college needs review by the state. I can tell you that this college is over funded in an area of the state where it ought to be able to support itself if managed properly. 

I intend to bring the truth forward on the colleges fraudulent representation of its student count, leadership struggles, and unrealistic plea for funding from the state. An internal audit of faculty and associate faculty would support everything I mention in this statement. In conclusion, you have just heard a statement from a former leading faculty member with almost ten years history with the college. 

I would recommend students go to the U of A where education is a top priority. It may cost a bit more but at least all your credits stay with you and you will get a valuable degree. The degrees at NWACC are not what they seem and full of repetitive courses lacking substance. This fact can be evidenced very well and students should not attend a school like NWACC where most courses are being taught at sophomore levels in local high schools.

The business of this particular college, NWACC, needs audit and review to correct its current state of operation. I believe other accredited schools have moved into Northwest Arkansas to offer a valuable option to the fraud of NWACC. I would encourage a future student or parent of the student to ask questions through this blog in order to be informed by the facts. As citizens and former teachers in this institution we can give you questions to take to the college advisors and administration that will reveal these truths. 

I enjoyed many years at NWACC and the U of A as a faculty member. Please ask the right questions and be informed. This will give you traction with your degree interest and only help you succeed. I would gladly answer any specific questions about why I believe students should not attend NWACC. 


Previous Full-time Faculty Member

Sunday, March 24, 2013

NWACC-What Happens to Their Whistle Blowers

This blog entry contains a letter from NWACC Whistle Blower, LTC Jim Parsons, to NWACC's Board of Trustees, a response to Parsons from NWACC's attorney, George Rhoads, and a news article published in The Benton County Daily Record, all pertaining to the same subject.

For more information on LTC Jim Parsons, read our blog entry titled, "Why NWACC Board Members Keep Quiet" and "Our Board Picks".

State Affiliate of Christian Educators Association International
Jim Parsons, State Director ACEA
December 22, 1994

Dear NWACC Board of Trustees Member:
I tried to tell you some of these things and you fired me for it.  Pamella Midgette tried to inform you of some of these issues and you fired her.  Now is another group of whistle blowers and I suppose that you will want to kill these messengers, too.  Is your method of solving problems one of silencing everyone and then there will be no more problems?

It seems that you do not welcome anyone on campus that might have a difference of opinion than your own.  In today’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette Governor Jim Guy Tucker in responding to questions regarding the Joycelyn Elders issues was quoted as saying, “Obviously, what you do on your own time is still your business in this country.”  Apparently, you do not agree with that and you want all NWACC students and employees to agree with your opinions 100 percent or you will remove them.  And, by Don White’s being Chairman of the Benton County Democrat Party, we know what those opinions are.

In an editorial titled Judge Teaching Abilities in The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas dated December 18, 1994 the article states, “It should be noted here that colleges and Universities are places to exchange diverse ideas, not limit them.  Liberals and conservatives alike should have the right to hold and express ideas on college campuses”.  We know for a fact that this is not the philosophy of the NWACC President or the Board of Trustees.  I hope that you will give me more than two minutes this time to try to resolve some of these problems.

Jim Parsons
State Director ACEA"

On December 3, 1998, LTC Jim Parsons received this letter from NWACC’s attorneys, Matthews, Campbell, Rhoads, McLure & Thompson of Rogers, Arkansas, stating…

“Dear Mr. Parsons:
Dick Trammel has forwarded your November 27 letter to me for reply.  You requested to have two minutes on the December  [1998] Board agenda to talk about freedom of speech.  That is not a proper agenda item.” 

Are these NWACC attorneys suggesting that our red, white, and blue American first amendment right to freedom of speech is not our legal right?  Do they not understand that our first amendment right is as important as our second amendment right?

This letter continues with, “By removing the Trustee Comments item from the agenda a few months ago, the Board of Trustees expressed its desire not to have speeches of a personal, political nature on the agenda.  You may discuss your personal, political issues at any other time, but you may not clutter the business of the Board with your personal issues”.

Our first amendment right to confronting NWACC with their corrupt practices is not of a personal or political nature.  NWACC changes its policies and procedures whenever they need to hide their corrupt personal agendas.  NWACC did not want these issues to be publicized, which would have been had LTC Parsons been able to present his story to the board.  This letter is signed by Attorney George R. Rhoads

On December 9, 1998, The Benton County Daily Record published this article, “Parsons’ complaint not on agenda… Jim Parsons, a Northwest Arkansas Community College Board of Trustee member [who was fired for whistleblowing], contends that two official letters from NWACC administrators to staff members are “concrete” examples of First Amendment freedom of speech suppression at NWACC.”

“Parsons’ complaint about freedom of speech, though, will not be placed on the December board agenda.  In a letter dated Nov. 27, addressed to board chairman Dick Trammell, Parsons requested two minutes on the December agenda to discuss the two letters.”

“Nwacc attorney George Rhoads addressed a reply to Parsons stating that freedom of speech is not a ‘proper agenda item’.  Rhoads went on to explain that by removing the trustee comments item from the agenda a few months earlier, the board expressed ‘its desire not to have speeches of a personal, political nature on the agenda’”.

LTC Jim Parsons was eventually fired for attempting to right the wrongs of NWACC.  Are there not "Whistle Blower" protection laws?  And if so, then NWACC, once again, clearly broke the law.

NWACC Ex-Employee Sues College

By Dave Perozek
Posted: March 21, 2013 at 5 a.m.
Benton County Daily News

BENTONVILLE — A woman fired last year by NorthWest Arkansas Community College has filed a lawsuit claiming her dismissal was in retaliation for complaints she made about the college.
Susan Gidney had worked as a fixed-assets accountant for five years before she was fired in July. She seeks an unspecified monetary award that would include back pay for lost wages and benefits. She also wants her job back.
The lawsuit names the college; Becky Paneitz, college president; and Wendi Cadle, human resources director, as defendants.
Steven Hinds, a college spokesman, declined to respond to the allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Fayetteville.
“We have turned it over to our attorney and have been advised it is best not to comment while this matter is in litigation,” Hinds said.


College Pay Raises
NorthWest Arkansas Community College gave raises to some classified employees in 2010 despite a memorandum from the state ordering state employee salaries be frozen. Following an extensive review, the state found five raises totaling about $10,000 were invalid. The college’s foundation paid that money back.
An October 2010 letter to college President Becky Paneitz from the state Office of Personnel Management identified Susan Gidney as one of six employees who had received “additional duty pay” which hadn’t been authorized.
The college also granted pay raises totaling $93,000 to six administrative employees in 2011. The raises ranged from $9,939 to $18,379 per person. Paneitz said those raises were needed to keep pay at a competitive level; they also were needed because of administrative restructuring that led to more responsibilities for the six employees.
Source: Staff Report
During the last 15 months of her employment, Gidney sent a series of letters to government officials and the media expressing her concern about newspaper articles that reported several college employees had received raises in violation of a state wage freeze, according to the lawsuit. Gidney also complained about college management practices.
When Gidney applied for a different position at the college last year, she learned in July the job already had been filled. She then obtained all documents related to the job through a Freedom of Information request.
Gidney emailed officials at the state Office of Personnel Management expressing concern the college might not have followed state guidelines in filling the position, according to the lawsuit.
She later told Beverly Hill, a human resources employee at the college, she was considering filing an age discrimination complaint against the college with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“The speech by Plaintiff concerned misconduct of public officials and how to remedy that misconduct and discrimination, as well as public officials’ misconduct in (mis)spending public monies, (mis)managing publicly owned property, and in the education of youth,” according to the lawsuit.
Gidney was fired less than a week after her conversation with Hill, according to the lawsuit.
“The reason given ... was misconduct, in the form of failure to complete required assigned work in a timely manner,” according to the lawsuit.
Supervisors evaluated Gidney’s performance four times during her time as a college employee. She received a rating of “above average” or “exceeds standards” each time.
Gidney is in her mid-50s, said Charles Kester, her attorney. She still lives in Northwest Arkansas.
“She is unemployed and has been looking for work ever since she got fired,” Kester said. “This has ruined her life. She has no job and has no prospects. She’s a middle-aged woman with a very specific skill set.”
Gidney thought she was more qualified for the job she was seeking last year than the person who was hired for it, and that person is younger than her, Kester said.
The retaliation complaint is at the heart of the lawsuit, Kester said.
“Her main concern was she was fired because she was complaining about things of public concern,” he said. “It’s retaliation for her trying to do the muckraking and bring the muck to light.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NWACC Bullies and Their Targets

Bullies are often insecure individuals who feel threatened or out of control, and they externalize those feelings in actions toward others – the victim.  Bullies need to make themselves feel more powerful and secure by controlling, manipulating, frightening, and bullying the targeted victim.   Bullies also perceive their victims as being more competent or who seem uncertain by being calm, pleasant, cheerful or tolerant.  Bullies often mistake kindness for weakness.  And assertiveness repels bullies.
In most cases, the bully outranks the target. If the petty tyrant has a supervisor title or above, he/she can make good on the threat of ending somebody's livelihood, such as what is practiced at NWACC with their many wrongfully expelled students enrolled in their allied health programs.  These bullies have the power to expel, punish or misuse the performance appraisal process thereby taking a thoroughly competent student and disassembling him/her with a series of negative evaluations (grades tampering is the most commonly used tactic at NWACC, but they have many more tactics in their hat).  Additionally, NWACC does not address legitimate grievances.  Rather, NWACC retaliates with disciplinary actions, which is against their own policies and procedures.
Competitive environments can serve as petri dishes for such behaviors, say the experts, and bullying is often camouflaged.  It takes a system like NWACC’s hierarchy to allow bullying, otherwise the bullies would be slapped down, confronted, punished or fired.  NWACC’s group dynamics plays an important role in bullying.  It's a mix of personalities within this environment  who either condone the practice and/or inadvertently or explicitly reward it, such as is the case with NWACC’s President, Becky Paneitz, VP Provost, Steven Gates, and Dean of Allied Health Programs, Mary Ross.
In the case of the group bullying situation, the big hammer these bullies have is the withdrawal of social support and validation of the bully victim because the group holds the key to good social validation.  If the group decides to ignore the bully victim and ice him/her out by secretly and connivingly turning as many people as possible against the victim, the victim comes to doubt that he/she is a person.  How very cruel.  This is termed “academic mobbing” for which there is a significant amount of research posted on the internet.
Group dynamics holds some gender variables.  The only significant difference between male and female bullies in terms of tactics is the use of the group.  Women, such as Dean Mary Ross, tend to pit co-workers/classmates against the target, more so than using top-down power strategies more commonly used by male bullies, such as VP Steven Gates.
Regardless of the bully/target relationship, if you're of the mind to lodge a complaint against NWACC, think twice about going up NWACC’s  chain of command to obtain help in your plight.  Bully victims mistake NWACC’s higher ups role and responsibilities to right the wrongs. Victims falsely believe  that the hierarchy is part of the organization's support for victims.  When it's time in a lawsuit to write a defense, the hierarchy is involved on the defense side, not the bully victim’s side.
The consequences of bullying is brutal and often results in a negative impact on a target's health.  Thirty percent of the victimized women get post traumatic stress disorder.  We're talking about a severe war-like wound that changes a person’s life forever.
Advice imparted to bully targets is outlined at length in a book titled “The Bully at Work “, authored by Namie.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wrongfully Expelled NWACC Students–Outrageous!

We have received information from many wrongfully expelled NWACC students, but this case is so well documented that we are using it as an example to show just how NWACC practices academic mobbing.

This is an analysis of a former NWACC student’s case of wrongful expulsion by Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) in Bentonville, Arkansas, that occurred just three weeks prior to her class’ graduation.  The ill treatment of this student began with the respiratory therapy director, Alan Clark (a bully) and respiratory therapy instructor, Michelle Frazier (a bully), and then went all the way up the chain of command to Dean of Allied Health, Mary Ross (a bully), to Judicial Affairs, Dale Montgomery (a bully), to Dean of Learner Services, Mike Hartman (a bully), to Dean of Academic Affairs, John Tuthill (a bully), to Provost, Steven Gates (a bully), and finally to President Becky Paneitz (a bully). Not a single person in this chain of command addressed this student’s grievance. Instead, they brought her up against three different disciplinary action committees for fabricated allegations.

Furthermore, respiratory therapy instructor, Michelle Frazier, and respiratory therapy director, Alan Clark, attempted to recruit the entire class of 2011 to go against this student and to back up their false allegations against her.  Half of the class joined in on the bullying and the other half refused to do so.  Those who joined Frazier and Clark in ganging up on this student are Cameron Bishop of Siloam Springs, Kristie Hamilton of Springdale, Amie Jones of Siloam Springs, Seandra Martin Watanabe of Fayetteville, Melinda Johns of Centerton, Jessica Armstrong of Holiday Island, Mariah Thomas of Bella Vista, and Chrissy Flatt of Siloam Springs.

It should be noted that Mike Hartman and John Tuthill left NWACC shortly after this student’s case because the heat was on and they didn’t want to be caught up in it.  Hartman and Tuthill are good friends who travel around the country obtaining jobs at community colleges.  These two should be held accountable, as well as all those involved in destroying this student’s reputation, grades (they tampered with them), financial stability, and career in respiratory therapy.  This student paid heavily for a service that NWACC provides, only to have NWACC yank it out from under her at the last minute.

This student e-mailed NWACC President Becky Paneitz requesting that NWACC honor her degree in respiratory therapy as she was a good student with good grades and attendance and strong work ethic, and because she completed the ENTIRE program with the exception of the final three weeks leading up to graduation because NWACC wrongfully expelled her at that time.  Her e-mail request to President Paneitz requesting her degree has also gone ignored.  It is rightfully hers because she has earned it in every way and more so than her classmates.  The two years of vicious bullying on top of her academic obstacles were unfortunate, but she was able to get through it with good grades and attendance.

This student also called Provost to President, Steven Gates, to ask for his help, but he told her that bullying is very rare and that he must side with his employees, suggesting that the real problem was this student rather than his NWACC bullies. For an entire year, this student attempted to arrange a friendly coffee meeting with Gates and his attorney, but was stonewalled every time. Furthermore, Gates’ attorney would send ugly correspondence to this student in an attempt to get this student to walk away and to deal with the total destruction of her life rather than attempt to repair the severe damage NWACC caused her. It has been almost three years since her wrongful expulsion and she has not given up yet.

This "game" of plausible deniability is not uncommon in cases of institutional abuse.  In fact it's an age old trick. They break the victim’s spirit through isolating and bullying and then attempt to take away their degree thereby marginalizing them.  This, however, is not acceptable behavior, especially for an accredited institution.  NWACC knows this and is pulling out all stops in order to keep the truth from coming out.  Given the severity of the charges and allegations of this student against NWACC, this case has great potential to damage the school's reputation, which is already in a fractured state. NWACC has financial and legal resources that are well beyond the means of an average student.  Consequently, many wrongfully expelled students over the years have walked away from this unpleasantness with nothing settled, and NWACC continues on with perpetrating the same old monstrocities to their numerous victims.

This student has been able to produce much credible evidence to support her claims.  What is also interesting about this case is that her grievance was met with a highly-articulated and fabricated counter attack rather than the peaceful desire for resolution promoted in the school's policy.  In the cover letter of her formal grievance, which is dated 12.17.2010, this student clearly stated, “My hope for the outcome of this grievance is to repair my reputation at clinical sites; be given the grades that I rightfully earn with fair academic instruction and testing; foster open communication channels and respectful relations between NWACC faculty and administration, hospital clinical sites, and myself; and to be able to complete my final semester in peace, to graduate, and to move on with my life.”  The school's haste to throw together a fabricated case against her and administrative personnel overlooking these simple requests altogether are questionable.  This student asked to be heard, only to be silenced. She asked for an education, only to be robbed of it. She asked for diplomacy, only to be stonewalled. She asked for peace and NWACC gave her war.

In fact, her grievance was raked over the coals at the same time her rights and education were being dismantled.  The inherent conflict of utilizing paid staff to administer judicial hearings is questionable.  What's ironic is that this student has clearly gathered more than enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof regarding her allegations of harassment, policy abuse, the mishandling of data, and records tampering, while the school's argument against her reads more like a teenage squabble.  

If even a fraction of her well-documented allegations are true, NWACC could be facing some very serious repercussions, especially in regard to its record tampering practices.  It is evidenced through her letters that her efforts have been continuing. As such, it may be concluded that the school's efforts to denounce her rights, to deny her degree, and to marginalize her as an individual have too been continuing.  Her attempts to resolve this situation have extended through a variety of departments and personnel, yet she has made no headway in reconciling the matter.  She is entitled to the correction of any falsified records, of which there are so many.

It is apparent that there is an organized push by school faculty and other NWACC representatives to quarantine this student’s story of wrongful expulsion which suggests a breakdown within the institution itself. This conclusion is also based upon the volume of other NWACC cases she has on file, which have involved foul play.

NWACC needs an ombudsman who is willing to look past private and financial interests in order to ensure fairness to both students and faculty.  What I don't understand is the strong bias that seems to have existed regarding her character.  She was raised in Germany; has traveled the globe; earned a liberal arts degree from an Ivy League college; spent nearly a decade living in Japan;  volunteered with Mother Theresa in Calcutta; spent a year in Borneo volunteering at an orangutan sanctuary; spent another year in Zanzibar tracking, monitoring, and habituating a troop a Zanzibar red colobus monkeys; spent approximately a year with a group of primatologists tracking one of Diane Fossey's troups of mountain gorilla's that had gone missing, and has lived a life full of philanthropy.  Additionally, she is multi-cultural and multi-lingual.  Furthermore, she is fifty years old and Michelle Frazier and Alan Clark expected her to think and behave like a traditional college-aged student of 19, which would entail erasing thirty-one years of her life from her memory. 

She came to Bentonville, Arkansas, to start a new chapter in her life, but has been treated like a second-class citizen by a bunch of low-class homegrown locals who are not emotionally equipped to deal with her diverse background and, in my opinion, a very interesting life of endeavors.  In short, they are simply green with envy and have made every attempt to destroy her.  NWACC faculty and administration is behaving on a very primal subjective level rather than on a sophisticated objective level as should be required by colleges and universities to qualify for a position within the institution.

There is no reason why a student should have to spend so much time and effort bargaining for rights that have already been guaranteed by the school through its very own policies and procedures.  The school seems to have intentionally placed a sizable gap between its students and their resources.  What personnel have been secured to delegate student grievances are disengaged and equally unwilling.  Likewise, those consigned to uphold procedural standards in disciplinary proceedings appear to be unanimously biased and uncooperative.  The administration of discipline should guarantee procedural fairness to any accused student.  It is surprising that NWACC does not employ an ombudsman or a neutral third-party mediator in order to facilitate conflict resolution.  NWACC’s grievance process is administered "in-house" and directed solely by staff and administrative personnel impeding the rights of aggrieved students.

According to the documents, emails, and transcripts this student has compiled, her grievance against Northwest Arkansas Community College and its Respiratory Therapy Program is based primarily on the following factors:

·         Bullying and Harassment by Instructors, Faculty, and Other Staff Personnel
·         Violations of Student Rights (per policy)
·         Violations of Whistleblower Protections
·         Retaliation by Staff and Administrative Personnel (per policy)
·         Due Process Violations (per policy)
·         Breach of Contract
·         Tampering and/or Altering of Scholastic and Personal Records
·         Fabrication and/or Forging of Official Records
·         Altering of Grades
·         Character defamation by Staff and Administrative Personnel/Slander Inside and Outside the Classroom
·         Sabotage of Future Employment Opportunities in NWA
·         Conspiracy/Civil Rights Violations
·         Consumer Fraud
·         Revocation of School Records Including Judicial File, Registrar's File, and Financial Aid File
·         Refusal of School to Respond to Multiple Freedom of Information Act Requests
·         The School's Promotion of a Hostile Learning Environment
·         The School's Unjustified Cancellation of her Classes and Wrongful Expulsion
·         Interference and Control of Your Personal Life
·         The Withholding of Grades for Work Completed
·         The Fabrication of a False/Illegal Psychological Assessment by Unlicensed/Unqualified Personnel
·         The Loss of Approximately $40,000 in Student Loan Debt with Interest Accruing Daily Plus Four Years
·                Study & One Year Appealing Case
·         Subsequent Damage to her Personal Credit
·         The Refusal by the School's Council to Hear and Process her Formal Grievance
     The Refusal by School Administration to Properly Address Faculty Indiscretions & Improprieties