Pima Community College students head for classes which began yesterday at the West Campus on Anklam Road. Photo by David Sanders/Arizona Daily Star. Mandatory credit

David Sanders

Pima Community College has been placed on probation by its accreditor.

An announcement was posted as of 8 a.m. today on the website of the accreditor, the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission.

An internal announcement to the college’s workforce went out around 10 a.m.. The college issued a news release just after noon.

“Pima Community College received word today that our accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), has placed the College on probation,” said an email to employees from Zelema Harris, the college’s new interim chancellor.

For now, PCC students will not be affected by the change because the college’s accreditation remains intact during the two-year probationary period.

During that window, PCC must correct widespread failings in its governance and administration, as identified in a recent report from a team the accreditor sent to Tucson to investigate complaints.

The college would only lose it’s accreditation if it failed to make the changes the accreditor requires.

The accreditator’s recent report was highly critical of the ethics and competence of PCC’s top executives and longtime members of the school’s Governing Board.

Problems the team identified ranged from corrupt contracting practices to board mishandling of sexual harassment allegations against former PCC Chancellor Roy Flores. Flores and other senior administrators created a “culture of fear and retribution” throughout the school’s workforce, it said.

Flores resigned last year after eight women accused him of sexual harassment in incidents that dated to 2003, the year he arrived at PCC.

The governing board members faulted in the report — Brenda Even, Scott Stewart, David Longoria and Marty Cortez – are facing mounting calls for resignations in light of the accreditor’s findings. They have said they intend to stay on.

The change in PCC’s status was not unexpected. Commission President Sylvia Manning notified the college last month that she was recommending the college be put on probation.

Harris, the interim chancellor, and Even, the PCC board leader, could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.