Professors at the Maricopa County Community College District are trying to avoid answering questionnaires about ethics and enrollment fraud.
The district’s Faculty Association, which represents full-time professors, argues such disclosures are unnecessary. Professors already know the rules on handling cash and manipulating class rosters, said Reyes Medrano, the association president.
The association has told its members to hold off completing the online questionnaires as its officials push Chancellor Rufus Glasper to withdraw the new requirement.
Starting this school year, the Maricopa colleges’ 12,000 employees must answer questions about tighter policies regarding enrollment, travel, nepotism and other conflicts of interest.
The disclosures are part of major reforms the MCCCD governing board approved in February in response to news reports that detailed misconduct throughout the district. A Tribune investigation published in October found that top college officials routinely shifted troublesome employees or allowed them to resign after their misconduct surfaced.
Glasper expects district employees to file the disclosures, said Chris Chesrown, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa colleges. However, Glasper has agreed to listen to the association’s concerns.
Professors support the ethics rules, Medrano said, but oppose having to fill out the lengthy documents. The association is also wary about how the disclosures are worded.
“They’re very vague questions, though. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in those questions,” Medrano said.
One questionnaire asks professors to answer “yes” or “no” after the statement: “I am enrolled as a student in my own course section.”
There are about 1,500 fulltime and 4,400 part-time, or adjunct, professors teaching at Maricopa’s 10 colleges. The district has told every instructor to fill out questionnaires about enrollment in classes they are teaching and classes they are taking.
To date, only 519 professors have submitted disclosures.
Classes began this week at MCCCD colleges, but professors have until Aug. 31 to file their questionnaires.
If they refuse to comply, board policy says violators could be fired.
Linda Rosenthal, board president, said the district’s elected officials intended for employees to affirm they understand the rules every year. “They are like every other employee that has to sign the forms,” Rosenthal said.
The policy says: “Standardized written procedures to check that questionable enrollments are not occurring will be developed and adhered to.”
The enrollment rules are intended to prevent large-scale fraud like that found at Scottsdale Community College. A performing arts program falsified class rosters for at least five years to hide its lack of students.
Professors enrolled in their own classes and the program director ordered his secretary to sign up to keep classes from being canceled.