Weeks after a probation sanction was lifted, Pima Community College has again run afoul of its accreditor.
PCC’s fundraising arm broke the accreditor’s public disclosure rules Wednesday when it made a plea for donations that misstated the school’s accreditation status, a spokesman for the accreditor said.
The fundraising pitch failed to mention, as required, that PCC remains under a lesser sanction recently imposed in place of probation, said John Hausaman, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission.
PCC was told by the commission to correct the misstatement and to make sure all of its future public communications comply with commission rules, Hausaman said in an email to the Arizona Daily Star.
The college responded Wednesday afternoon by issuing a revised fundraising email. It said the omission in the initial version was unintentional.
The disclosure rule that was broken is one PCC was made aware of in the March 9 accreditor’s letter that told the college its probation was being lifted. The letter said PCC must remain under a lesser sanction called “notice” because it still is at risk of problems, and said the college must publicly disclose the new sanction “whenever it refers to its commission accreditation.”
Wednesday’s fundraising pitch from the PCC Foundation, cosigned by Chancellor Lee Lambert, said only that the accreditor had taken PCC off probation. It didn’t mention the new sanction.
PCC did not respond to emails Wednesday asking who wrote the fundraising pitch, and whether the author had read the accreditor’s public disclosure rules.
In an email to Star management Wednesday, Jodi Horton, PCC’s interim public relations boss, said the college will no longer answer the Star’s questions unless they are “couched in professional and respectful language and provide adequate time for response.
“ ‘Adequate’ will be defined as a day’s notice at minimum, unless we are dealing with breaking news,” wrote Horton, who is charging the college $150 an hour for her services.
PCC was placed on probation in 2013 for mismanagement and lax governance. To ensure promised improvements have taken root, the college will remain on notice for the next 18 months or so until the accreditor’s next review.