Pima College woes creating conflict - Tucson News Now

Pima College woes creating conflict

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

We're uncovering more details about divisions in our community over allegations of wrongdoing at Pima Community College (PCC).

As we've been telling you, the college recently settled a sexual harassment claim.

It was made against the college's former chancellor, Roy Flores, who has denied the allegation.

Now a higher education watchdog group, the Higher Learning Commission, (HLC) is investigating those and other claims.

The situation at PCC is creating conflict among people, even outside the college community.

PCC is going through a lot of changes.

It is searching for a new chancellor after Flores resigned earlier this year, citing health reasons.

It's addressing issues with contracting and making it easier for employees and students to file complaints.

"I think we've discovered some weaknesses in contracting, the sexual harassment charges against the former chancellor are definitely important and significant," says PCC Governing Board Chairman Scott Stewart.

However, Stewart questions the motives of some of those who complained about policy.

Stewart believes some of it was politics and people who disagreed with Flores' tough style.

"To people used to low expectation and low standards, you know, that can seem like bullying," says Stewart.

"Now, in education where people are a little more touchy-feely, it was probably rougher than what they expected, and frankly, as the year has gone on and I've heard additional stories, yeah. Maybe he was too rough," Stewart continues.

Stewart says Flores was asked to try to be gentler.

The Tucson-based Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility, or             C-FAIRR, says its interest in excellence at Pima College has nothing to do with college politics.

"There had been a lot of allegations: Sexual harassment, misuse of public funds, toxic work environment and so we wanted the truth uncovered," says C-FAIRR Chairman Mario Gonzales.

"In fact, I was saying, if the HLC thought that this was political, they wouldn't come down here," Gonzales adds.

The HLC will be investigating whether the college is worthy of continued accreditation.

Both the governing board and C-FAIRR say they welcome the outside investigation to find the truth.

"Have people on record and preferably even under oath," says Stewart.

Gonzales says, "I think the HLC is smart enough and they're professional enough that they're going to mete out whatever punishment is necessary, if there is any wrongdoing at all."

The HLC is expected to begin its fact-finding visit to Pima College early next year.

Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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