Consultant probes PCC handling of disturbed students

2013-12-16T00:00:00Z Consultant probes PCC handling of disturbed studentsBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima Community College has hired an internationally recognized expert to see if the school is dealing properly with troubled students who may pose safety threats.

The move follows recent faculty claims that cases of disturbing student behavior are not being thoroughly investigated.

Ohio-based consultant James H. Clark, who has worked on campuses across the United States, the United Kingdom and the Middle East, spent most of last week in Tucson interviewing PCC employees and students about their perceptions of campus safety.

He also will review the school’s policies, practices and documentation to see how they stack up against national industry standards.

“We’re delighted we could get him,” Mark Ziska, PCC’s interim human-resources boss, said of Clark. “He’s very good and highly sought-after.”

Clark will pay special attention to the case that led to his hiring.

Faculty members at PCC’s Northwest Campus — including one who is a psychologist — recently complained that a student was allowed to stay in school after he talked about killing babies and cutting into human livers.

Faculty likened his behavior to that of mass shooter Jared Loughner, a former PCC student who killed or injured 19 people in 2011 after the college kicked him out and told him to get a mental health evaluation.

Ziska said the consultant’s findings will be made public. He expects a report to be ready by year’s end.

PCC will act quickly to fix any problem areas the consultant identifies, he said.

Ziska said Clark has been an expert witness in more than 15 court cases involving campus security and a half-dozen mass-murder cases linked to workplace violence.

Clark will earn about $15,000 for the PCC work.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.

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