By Bleah Patterson
Palo Alto and Northeast Lakeview colleges have joined the other Alamo Colleges in receiving notice from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges of an official investigation.
Northwest Vista College was served notice March 11 of an official investigation.
Letters of inquiry to St. Philip’s and this college from Michael Johnson, a senior vice president of SACS/COC, referenced articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd.com regarding a core change and exclusion of faculty from the decision-making, a breach of process.
Since then, St. Philip’s and this college have received a second notice — this time of an official investigation, Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, said Monday.
Northwest Vista, Palo Alto and Northeast Lakeview all were notified of an official investigation in the first contact.
The investigation is regarding EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, which is approved for addition to the core curriculum in place of three hours of humanities beginning in fall.
Fabianke, who is the district’s point person on EDUC 1300, said she met with Chancellor Bruce Leslie and Dr. Thomas Cleary, interim president of Northeast Lakeview, to formulate a response for that college.
The new president of Northeast Lakeview, Dr. Mike Follins, referred questions about the core change to Cleary because Follins stepped into his new position March 21.
Dr. Mike Flores, Palo Alto College president, has been out of the office all week and has not returned calls.
Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, is leading this college’s efforts at a Quality Enhancement Plan in conjunction with the application for a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation in 2016.
Wood is part of President Robert Zeigler’s team preparing this college’s response to the agency’s inquiry of March 20.
Wood said the report, due by April 15 to SACS/COC, will add to the agency’s information.
“The information they got is not wrong,” Wood said, “but it’s not complete.”
He said he anticipates a fair evaluation of the colleges’ reports.
“What they’re going to do is take our response and weigh it against all of the other responses to get the full picture,” he said.
Wood said, “We’re either going to be off the hook completely, or there could be enough ambiguity that they need to do further investigation, or they could decide that the media and public complaints are founded, which could warrant a site visit. If we don’t send in the report, then that would definitely be bad because they’d only have that one side, but that won’t happen. We’ll definitely have our response before the deadline.”
Wood, who earlier said the core change proposal did include faculty input, though not as much as the faculty might have liked and perhaps not from the faculty members they might prefer, is content with abiding by the accrediting agency’s decision.
“I know that what they do will be very fair,” Wood said. “No matter the outcome, we can’t complain. It will be very unbiased.”
Jacqueline Claunch, president of Northwest Vista College, said, “We have a team working on our response. We will be conferring with the other schools just to make sure we’re on the same page on the areas we overlap.”