On February 8, Dodge City Community College Trustee Dan Reichenborn deliberately disclosed confidential information regarding the college helicopter program in an editorial.
This was an obvious move to bypass reasonable debate and elicit favor in the general public for his ill-advised proposals that gain no traction in board meetings.
As the current chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, I take very seriously our college’s mission to educate and serve students and our community long into the future. It is my duty to ensure that we have a functioning body to properly oversee and guide Dodge City Community College in a responsible and effective manner.
The willingness of Mr. Dan Reichenborn to disregard the obligations and responsibilities required of a Dodge City Community College trustee is disturbing. In 2017, a sitting board member used a paid political advertisement to purposely reveal confidential information. The editorial by Mr. Reichenborn constitutes the same dereliction of duty and careless disregard of ethical conduct.
In both instances, wild accusations concerning operation of the helicopter have been indiscriminately tossed about. The operation of the helicopter program, brought to the college in 2008 prior to the current administration, and the subsequent issues with the Veterans Administration, are serious and complicated matters.
Intentionally releasing any information discussed in closed session is a serious ethical violation. Releasing only partial information to the public as Mr. Reichenborn has done in his editorial rant is purposely misleading, irresponsible, reckless, and accomplishes nothing except for damage to our institution.
This repeated pattern of callous disregard for the welfare of the college is the root of complaints by the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accreditation agency. The potential harm to our institution is very real, including financial and accreditation sanctions.
For more than a year, trustees have been admonished by the Higher Learning Commission concerning board overreach for the very type of behavior Mr. Reichenborn’s editorial models.
Mr. Reichenborn is to be reminded that the Higher Learning Commission placed the college on notice for, among other things, blatant overreach and misconduct by board members.
As DCCC makes progress in the improvements recommended by the Higher Learning Commission, Mr. Reichenborn once again seriously jeopardizes the long-term well-being of the college simply to engage in embarrassing grandstanding.
The behavior of Mr. Reichenborn is a clear violation of his ethical and legal obligations to the college. The Code of Ethics of the DCCC Board specifically state "…it shall be considered unethical for any member of the Board to express any opinion … regarding any question which is coming before the Board at any time other than in a legal meeting of the Board when the question is open for discussion." Mr. Reichenborn has either not read the Code of Ethics or intentionally chose to ignore them.
Unquestionably, the public has a right to be informed. However, there are established procedures to do so. Maintaining confidentiality is a basic function of a college trustee, and Ford County taxpayers should fully understand the detrimental effect Mr. Reichenborn’s flippant and immature attitude toward accepted behavior. Ford County taxpayers should be gravely concerned that Mr. Reichenborn is willing to engage in brazen misconduct with no consideration for the repercussions which may befall our college.
The willful circumvention for proper procedure and board protocol demonstrated by Mr. Reichenborn in revealing confidential college information cannot be overstated. Instead of advocating for his position in a responsible, constructive manner, he chose a path of reckless disregard and immature public outbursts.
The selfish abuse by Mr. Reichenborn of his position also creates a very real challenge for the college’s longtime legal counsel, Glenn Kerbs. For 30 years Mr. Kerbs has worked tirelessly for the best interests of DCCC, however, it is now questionable as to whether Mr. Kerbs can discuss crucial college business with the board knowing that Mr. Reichenborn cannot be trusted to maintain legally required confidentiality.
It is also highly questionable whether the demeanor of Mr. Reichenborn is suitable for this important office when he exhibits the same uncontrollable, tactless behavior that caused the Board of Trustees to get in trouble with the Higher Learning Commission in the first place.
The following questions are posed for Mr. Reichenborn: 1. What effect do you think your letter has on potential students and their parents?
2. During the ongoing Higher Learning Commission review of the college, how do you think the HLC perceives your action?
3. During the ongoing Higher Learning Commission review of the college, how does your action give the HLC confidence that Trustees will conduct themselves appropriately?
4. Will you continue to make a public mockery of Dodge City Community College, the board of trustees, the Higher Learning Commission, and the hard work of dedicated staff, faculty, and administrators?
5. How does persistently attacking the college and administration improve learning outcomes for students?
6. What actions have you proposed that would positively impact student experience at DCCC?
7. How many hours would you like business office staff to spend hunting down figures you already know, to back assumptions you have already made?
8. What other rules will you purposely violate to further your careless, solitary crusade?
Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees Chair