The Maricopa County Community College District is no longer trying to fire Mesa Community College’s media arts director. But it isn’t welcoming her back on campus, either.
Chancellor Rufus Glasper is recommending that the district governing board suspend the professor, Cyndi Greening, without pay for the remainder of this school year for enrollment fraud and mismanagement.
The board is scheduled to decide Greening’s employment at its meeting Oct. 23.
Greening regularly enrolled students in two different classes that she scheduled for the same time.
In a letter to Greening last week, Glasper said the practice is enrollment “fraud and potentially financial aid and health insurance fraud as well.”
However, last month a faculty committee ruled the district’s allegations are unfounded because the practice is common throughout the arts department. Classes are regularly lumped together so the college doesn’t cancel them for having too few students.
The committee oversaw Greening’s termination hearing in August, during which MCC arts professors detailed how schedules are often arranged to protect classes.
“They’re wrong,” Greening said of the district’s allegations. “It was proven in the testimony.”
Regardless of what is common, Greening broke the district’s rules, the chancellor said. “Although policy was unclear, Ms. Greening failed to exercise due diligence in her responsibilities as a program director and faculty member,” Glasper said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
MCC began investigating Greening early this year after a Tribune series detailed misconduct throughout the district, including numerous fake enrollments. News reports also found instances of questionable international travel.
In August 2006, Greening took 14 students to Zambia to film a feature movie and a documentary, a trip that has not been questioned. She was on sabbatical the entire 2006-07 school year and was not aware the college was investigating her until she received a termination notice from Glasper in May.
Greening contends that she has been wrongly targeted by a district trying to clean its image.
The lesser punishment does Greening little good. She said she has more than $100,000 in debt from the Zambia project and legal fees to protect her job.
“You might as well fire me if you’re not going to pay me,” Greening said.
But if Greening does not return to MCC after the suspension, she said the college could force her to repay the $70,000 in salary she received during her sabbatical.