PCC psychologist leaving after complaints

2014-02-13T00:00:00Z PCC psychologist leaving after complaintsBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A psychologist responsible for overseeing the handling of threatening students at Pima Community College is leaving and will not be replaced.

James J. Sanchez, a former Davis-Monthan Air Force Base psychologist criticized by faculty as ineffective in his college role, is returning to private practice, officials said in an email to employees Wednesday.

Sanchez’s last day at PCC is Friday. He leaves with almost five months remaining on his $100,000 annual contract.

He’s the ninth PCC administrator since June to abruptly retire, resign or be terminated.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Sanchez said he doesn’t agree with faculty complaints about his performance. He said he decided to leave PCC to pursue other opportunities.

“I think we did a really good job,” he said of the team he led that looked into complaints of troubling student behavior on campus.

The staff psychologist post was created in 2011 after former PCC student Jared Lee Loughner  went on a shooting spree, killing that killedsix people and wounding 13, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Rather than hire a replacement for Sanchez, PCC will go back to using the services of Threat Assessment Group, the outside contractor the college employed before he was hired.

Wednesday’s email from Mark Ziska, PCC’s interim human resources boss, said Sanchez “is a nationally recognized presenter in the field and will be missed for his knowledge and insights.”

The email made no mention of the blistering criticisms of Sanchez made in a November faculty complaint to PCC’s leadership.

The complaint from the Pima Community College Education Association said Sanchez, who was supposed to train employees to recognize threats, didn’t do much training and when he did, it “was evaluated poorly by attendees.”

It also questioned his overall fitness for the job. “What has Dr. Sanchez actually done at the college to allow him to consider himself any sort of ‘threat manager?’ This is not a rhetorical question,” the complaint said.

Sanchez, the spouse of PCC vice provost and assistant vice chancellor Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez, beat out 20 other applicants for the college psychologist’s job.

A consultant PCC recently hired to probe faculty complaints identified shortcomings in the handling of troubled students on Sanchez’s watch.

The committee he led, responsible for deciding when students pose a threat to others, lacked rules and communicated poorly, the consultant found.

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

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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