Chancellor recommends firing program director - East Valley Tribune: News

Chancellor recommends firing program director

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Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2007 4:37 pm | Updated: 7:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Maricopa County Community College District began proceedings to fire the director of its leading business and international program on Thursday over concerns that she misused taxpayer dollars.

The Maricopa County Community College District began proceedings to fire the director of its leading business and international program on Thursday over concerns that she misused taxpayer dollars.

Pinny Sheoran, head of the Business & Industry Institute at Mesa Community College, has been under intense scrutiny since late last year, when news reports detailed questionable pay and travel by the college executive.

Chancellor Rufus Glasper placed Sheoran on paid leave in December and on Thursday announced that he will recommend that the district governing board fire her.

Sheoran could not be reached for comment.

A brief statement released by the district said Sheoran has chosen to exercise her due process rights, and will fight Glasper’s decision.

The district’s statement does not explain the cause for her firing. Chris Chesrown, a district spokeswoman, said college officials couldn’t comment on personnel matters.

If Sheoran is ousted, she would be the district’s third executive removed since Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies launched an investigation into criminal fraud and international travel at the county’s colleges in January.

Last month, the chancellor forced out Larry Christiansen, Sheoran’s boss and president of the Mesa college, and Homero Lopez, president of Estrella Mountain College in Avondale.

Christiansen, Lopez and Sheoran are targets in the criminal investigation, court records show.

Under Sheoran’s direction, the business institute has worked for two years to build on-line classes for the Chinese Medicine Education Association. The governing board approved spending $2 million to develop the classes last summer with the hope that they would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the college.

During the past five years, the college has spent more than $300,000 on international travel, including multiple trips to China. Following news reports detailing the travel in October, Glasper temporarily froze such excursions until an internal review could affirm that the district should pursue foreign business deals.

During the freeze, however, Glasper approved a two-week China trip for Sheoran and other executives to prepare to offer online classes this year.

The chancellor halted the trip on Nov. 3, just days before the group was to depart, the same day the Tribune requested the institute’s travel records.

When Glasper put Sheoran on leave in December, he asked that a state agency volunteer to investigate whether the institute director had misused taxpayer funds. Sheoran was accused of being paid to teach a class that she did not teach, and one of her employees was accused of using overtime funds for travel.

Shortly thereafter, the sheriff’s office began investigating Sheoran and a number of other district employees. Nearly all of those targeted by the sheriff were involved in fraud cases throughout the college system, which were detailed in a Tribune series in October.

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