A recent editorial by our colleague and fellow Dodge City Community College trustee Dan Reichenborn raised some issues concerning the current status of the Dodge City Community College flight program.
Dodge City Community College has received communication from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs which disputes previously approved curriculum details as well as classification of certain course hours that may have led to overpayments in certain cases.
In an effort to understand any errors that may have occurred and avoid similar issues in the future, representatives from DCCC and VA officials are working together to correlate actual academic records with GI Bill funding on a case-by-case basis.
It is irresponsible to embarrass the college by flatly announcing that the VA has billed DCCC $33 million. The amount the college may owe the VA is yet to be determined.
As DCCC legal counsel Glenn Kerbs has told the entire board, including Mr. Reichenborn, full reviews of flight programs typically take years to complete.
During board work sessions, trustees have learned that the college is, in fact, disputing those charges one by one. Trustees also understand that Provost Adam John has stated he has extensive documentation – including actual flight logs, attendance records, and class scores – to counter many of these claims.
We also wish to point out the lack of proper procedure and board protocol demonstrated by Mr. Reichenborn in revealing confidential information, provided to him in a position of trust with the college. We encourage Mr. Reichenborn to voice his concerns directly to his fellow trustees and college staff during board work sessions and meetings – both of which are open, public forums, and to advocate for his position in a responsible, constructive manner.
Trustees were specifically reproached by the Higher Learning Commission concerning board overreach.
As DCCC is making progress in improvements recommended by the HLC, actions that could be interpreted as counter to HLC directives would be regressive and potentially harmful to college efforts.
During our regularly scheduled work sessions, trustees have learned that college personnel are poised this week to present our final proposal to the relevant state approval agencies to get our program running again in complete compliance.
Trustees have learned that the college and the VA are cooperating to sort through both sides’ often perplexing paperwork. It appears that until just a few years ago, there was unusually passive oversight and supervision since the program’s inception, leading to many records not being compiled adequately and a persistent lack of overall compliance.
Dr. John and our staff in Arizona have already been able to help the VA identify tens of thousands of dollars in potentially erroneous charges by providing copious academic and flight records for students who were mistakenly believed to have not completed the training.
We would encourage Mr. Reichenborn to utilize the many pathways available to him as a trustee to put issues on the agenda for discussion, make a proposal and call for an on-the-record vote.
As Mr. Reichenborn is aware, some of these discussions would necessarily take place in executive session due to personnel or other sensitive matters, or details of ongoing proceedings that are inappropriate to discuss openly at this time.
We encourage him to raise questions in a forum where they can be answered by people with the facts. His position as a trustee affords him the opportunity to receive all the necessary clarification from anyone at the college. Mr. Reichenborn is entitled to express his views publicly, but as a steward of public trust perhaps a more productive way to get direct answers to questions would be at open work sessions or board meetings.
By fully embracing his responsibility as a trustee and contributing to the work of the board during work sessions, we feel he will receive more valuable, useful information.
No information is being hidden from Mr. Reichenborn in any way. All board meetings and work sessions are posted and open to the public.
It is publicly embarrassing and detrimental to the college that Mr. Reichenborn equates DCCC to St. Mary of the Plains, which was similarly disparaged until its ultimate demise, and in virtually the same breath tries to persuade parents to send their sons and daughters to our school.
We deeply appreciate Mr. Reichenborn’s passion for education. He is a champion for educators and students alike. We would however, prefer that he address his concerns within the capacity of the board.
We would very much encourage our colleague to attend the regularly scheduled work sessions where his concerns could be more effectively addressed. Only through discussion and action as a board can we affect positive change on our institution.
Perhaps Mr. Reichenborn is attempting to improve our college, but the ultimate perception accomplishes nothing more than continued vilification and negatively impacting enrollment, while ignoring the many, many great things that our college and our students are doing.
Floris Jean Hampton, DCCC Trustee
Kathy Ramsour, DCCC Trustee
Mia Korbelik, DCCC Trustee