Special Team Report Bishop State Community College - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Special Team Report Bishop State Community College

Special Team Report

Bishop State Community College

June 22, 2007

At the Request of Chancellor Byrne, a Special Review Team was dispatched to Bishop State Community College to conduct a limited review of certain areas of College operations in certain financial and academic areas.  The following are the opinions and recommendations of the Special Review Team upon conducting the review:

Payroll:

Finding 1):  Certain College employees are receiving stipends in excess of salary schedules established by the State Board of Education.

The State Department of Education annually approves the approved salary schedules for the Alabama College System.  Each institution in the Alabama College System should strictly adhere to the approved salary schedules when placing employees on the payroll of the institutions. 

On September 15, 2005 President Yvonne Kennedy of Bishop State Community College wrote Chancellor Roy Johnson asking permission to pay certain individuals an additional amount called a "stipend" over and beyond what is prescribed on the State Board approved salary schedules.  Chancellor Johnson approved the request in a letter to Dr. Yvonne Kennedy dated September 26, 2005.  The individuals receiving the stipends were in the following positions:

Manager Student Financial Aid and Veterans Services   $600 per month

Director of the Southwest Campus   $700 per month

Finding 2):  The College does not have adequate controls to notify payroll and human resources when an employee no longer works with the college.  This could lead to payments continuing to ex-employees who no longer work for the college.

Documentation:

Interviews with the Human Resource employee at Bishop State Community College and copies of letters from President Yvonne Kennedy and former Chancellor Roy Johnson.

Recommendations:

1. It is recommended that all employees be paid in accordance with the State Board

approved salary schedules.

2.  It is recommended that controls be established which would notify payroll and human resources immediately upon the termination of an employee with the college to prevent overpayments to these individuals.

Student Receivables:

Finding:  A review of twelve student accounts receivable files indicated that some students owing balances did not have holds placed on their accounts in a timely basis. 

As a result of this finding, some students were allowed to register for the next semester even though they owed the College for the previous semester.  There is no provision in state statues to allow Bishop State Community College to extend credit to its students.  Of the twelve accounts reviewed, only five had holds placed in a timely manner.  The following is a summary of the student accounts where holds were not timely placed:

Student Acct #1      Withdrew 10/2/06*                    Date of Hold on Account:   3/15/07

Student Acct #2      Withdrew 10/2/06*                    Date of Hold on Account:   3/15/07

Student Acct #3      Withdrew 10/9/06*                    Date of Hold on Account:   3/15/07

Student Acct #4      Withdrew   9/7/06*                    Date of Hold on Account    3/15/07

Student Acct #5      Withdrew 11/17/06*                  Date of Hold on Account    6/08/07

Student Acct #6      Owed for Fall 06*           Date of Hold on Account    6/08/07

Student Acct #7      Owed for Fall 06*           Date of Hold on Account    6/08/07

            *All seven students listed owed tuition and fees for Fall, 2006

Documentation:

AS400 computer generated copies of student accounts.

Recommendation:

It is recommended that the Business Office monitor student receivables to make every effort to collect all amounts due and to place holds on any student account where the student has withdrawn owing the College funds.  Holds should be placed on accounts before the registration begins for the next semester to prohibit any such student from being able to enroll while owing for a previous semester.

Daycare Operation:

Finding:  The College's has mingled records of Daycare receivables with student receivables, and has carried at least one large Daycare receivable for an extended period.

Due to time constraints we were not able to look into the Daycare operation itself.  However during our normal course of reviewing student accounts receivables we noticed several accounts did not have the typical nine digit student account numbers.  Some were identified as "DC123".  We determined that these were not student receivables, but, instead were receivables related to the daycare center that were being co-mingled with student admission and records accounts.  One such account "DC180" had a balance of $840 which appears to have accumulated since the summer of 06.  There should be a procedure in place that would require payments for daycare services to be made promptly and possibly even in advance or a denial of services at a certain point if payment has not been made.

Documentation:

Copies of student account information from the AS400 computer system.

Recommendations: 

1.  It is recommended that the daycare operation require payment to be made in advance for daycare services or establish procedures which would prohibit customers of the daycare center from accumulating large balances owed to the college.

2.  We recommend that any auxiliary type operation including that of the daycare center maintain separate customer account information and not be co-mingled with that of the College student accounts.  The accounts regarding the daycare center should also be audited.

Bookstore Buyback Funds:

Finding 1):  The College has mingled work order charges in the records of Bookstore Buyback funds.

For the December 2006 buyback at the Southwest Campus, we found a work order whereby a college shop truck was repaired in the college live work center.  The work order had gotten commingled in with the book buyback documentation and appears to have never been processed and the correct department properly charged for the repair.

Documentation:

A copy of the work order was reviewed and obtained. 

The December buyback forms for each student were reviewed.

Recommendation:

The business office should review its procedures governing the processing of book buybacks and other processes including controls over work orders, and avoid co-mingling of these records.

Finding 2):  The College's Bookstore Buyback system uses a cash system with inadequate controls to protect the College.

The College uses an antiquated and unduly risky cash system on book buybacks that involves cashing checks for large amounts (for example $25,000) and having the bookstore manager pay students cash for used books that the bookstore buys back.  The computer system used by the college system could be used to process checks to the students for book buybacks.

Documentation:

Printouts were provided listing checks made payable to each of the bookstore managers for the period December 2005 through May 2007.  Copies of the checks were also provided and total $169,400 for this period.  The checks would read as follows:   "BSCC/Bookstore Manager Name/Petty Cash."

Recommendation:

It is recommended that the college utilize its computer system to post amounts to student accounts for the buyback price and then to issue checks to the students subsequent to the buyback date.  This method eliminates the risk of mishandling cash since no cash will be distributed.  It provides better internal controls over the book buyback process.

Foundation:

Finding 1):  The College's Foundation has been operated almost entirely without appropriate corporate governance, under the personal direction of the President of the College and her immediate staff, and has been used for an inappropriate donation designation program in apparent violation of applicable tax laws. 

Interviews were conducted with the Dean of Finance, the President of Bishop State Community College and the Foundation Board Chairman concerning the Bishop State Community College Foundation.  The interviews revealed that the foundation board was basically non-functional as they rarely ever met.  The Foundation Chairman when interviewed stated "I forgot we still had a foundation until I read about it in the newspaper."  The Foundation was basically operated and controlled by Bishop State Community College and its President.  The Dean of Finance for Bishop State maintained the foundation checkbook and upon receipt of a requisition would obtain approval from the President of Bishop State to pay each item. 

Additional Findings:

  • The Foundation did not maintain any accounting records.  Basically the only records that existed were a checkbook that was maintained by the Dean of Finance of Bishop State Community College who would disburse funds only after approval was received from the President of Bishop State.
  • The only Foundation records made available for review was a computer disk.  It was provided to us by an Attorney that individually represents the President of Bishop State Community College.  The disk contained copies of each check paid from Foundation funds and bank statements.  Supporting documentation for each expenditure was not made available for review, therefore, we could not determine the validity of these expenditures from the foundation funds. 
  • The Dean of Finance and the President were both on the Board of the Foundation.  Normally employees of an institution are not voting members of the Foundation Board which exists to support the College.  In the Fall 2006, former Chancellor Johnson wrote Bishop State Community College informing the President to remove the foundation from Bishop State Community College control.  Since that time the Foundation records have been in the possession of the President's attorney as mentioned above. 
  • Interviews identified that the foundation board was inactive and rarely met.
  • The foundation does not have any endowed scholarships and was basically spending funds as it received them.
  • The Foundation has never been audited nor has it ever prepared financial statements for any of its years of operations.  Interviews also revealed that tax returns for the foundation have not been filed for the past two fiscal years.
  • It appears that the primary source of funds to the foundation is payroll deductions whereby employees of Bishop State Community College make payroll deductions contributing to the foundation.  A form is provided where employees list the amount they are contributing and designate how the funds are to be used.  The choices are scholarships or endowments and it appears that most are listed as scholarships with the employees filling in the name or identity of the person who is to receive the scholarship.  For example, one such designation by an employee listed the scholarship recipient as "Self," others listed individual student names, and others listed a "scholarship fund" with the same last names as the donors.  Subsequent to such contributions, disbursements would be made based on written instructions from the donors to pay for tuition, fees, or other college expenses for the designated beneficiary.  These transactions appear to be in conflict with federal tax laws which would prohibit donors from being involved in the decision on which individuals receive the benefits of such contributions, and also prohibit contributors from receiving private benefit from their contributions.  Foundation tax returns which were provided to the review team by the college (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004) were signed by the President of the college as "President," except for f/y 1996, which was signed by the business dean as "Ex Officio Director").  Statements in these returns referring the foundation's "scholarship" program do not appear to correctly represent the foundation's actual contribution/grant process, to wit:
  • 1. 1996, 1998, Schedule A, Part III, line 4/4b [Attach a statement to explain how the organization determines that individuals or organizations receiving grants or loans from it in furtherance of its charitable programs qualify to receive such payments.]: "In order to qualify for scholarship money a student must be in good standing with the college, have a grade point average no lower than 2.0, and demonstrate a financial need to the committee."
  • 2. 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, Schedule A, Part III, line a, [All Organizations must describe their exempt purpose achievements in a clear and concise manner. State the number of clients served, publications issued, etc. Discuss achievements that are not measurable. (Section 501(c)(3) and (4) organizations and 4947(a)(1) nonexempt charitable trusts must also enter the amount of grants and allocations to others.)]. "PROVIDED TUITION, FEES, AND BOOKS FOR APPROX. ["22 STUDENTS" in 2000 return; "150 STUDENTS" in 2001 & 2002 returns, and "100 STUDENTS" in 2003 and 2004 returns] WHO HAD APPLIED FOR AND RECEIVED SCHOLARSHIPS BASED ON NEED AND ACHIEVEMENT."
  • A State of Alabama check for $94,440 dated May 14, 2003, from State Legislative Community Service Funds was payable to "Bishop State Community College" but was deposited into the Foundation bank account.  It wasn't until September 8, 2003 that the funds were transferred from the Foundation to Bishop State Community College, and the amount transferred was actually $40 short of the initial check amount. 
  • It was determined from interviews that the Foundation did not have any insurance.
  • Contributions to the College's Foundation have been used to pay toward outstanding liabilities of the College for financial aid discrepancies owed to the United States Department of Education.

Documentation:

Interview notes with the President of Bishop State Community College, the Dean of Finance of Bishop State Community College and with the Chairman of the Foundation Board.  Copies of the check from the State of Alabama for Bishop State Community College was obtained along with the corresponding deposit tickets into the Foundation Account and then later deposit tickets to the Bishop State Community College Accounts.  Copies of payroll deduction records completed by various employees were obtained to support the above findings.  Review of tax returns of the foundation provided by the college.

Recommendations:

  • The foundation should follow article 7 of its by-laws which state, "The Board of Directors shall ensure that the appropriate officers of the corporation shall keep correct and complete books and records of accounts and shall keep minutes of the proceedings of its Board of Directors and committees......." 
  • The supporting documentation for each foundation expenditure for the past few years should be made available and a detail examination or audit of the supporting documentation should be conducted.
  • If the President of the College or any other employee of the College is on the foundation board of directors, it should be in a non-voting capacity.  The College should ensure that all transactions involving the foundation is at an arms length from the college.
  • The Foundation Board of Directors should meet on a regular basis and minutes of the meetings should be maintained.
  • The Foundation should make an effort to endow funds.
  • The Foundation should immediately prepare financial statements for Fiscal Year 05-06.  Each subsequent fiscal year the foundation should have financial statements prepared by December 15 following the September 30 year end.  Immediately thereafter the foundation should seek an audit of its financial statements and take steps to ensure that the necessary tax forms are filed each year.
  • The contributions to the foundation by Bishop employees or any other contributors should be for general or properly designated scholarship purposes, awarded according to an established, documented process by a duly-organized scholarship committee, and the donors should not have any control or authority over the specific identity of the individuals receiving the benefit of contributions. 
  • Foundation tax returns should be filed on a timely basis, and should correctly reflect the foundation's scholarship awards, criteria and procedures.
  • The College should take steps to ensure that all funds intended for the College are received and deposited in the accounts of the College.
  • It is recommended that the Foundation Board be properly insured.

Best Grill:

Finding):  The College has operated a restaurant-based instructional program of doubtful educational value at a substantial and continuing financial loss to the college, without adequate controls over cash and purchasing.

The College in 2002 closed its cafeterias and opened a restaurant called the "Best Grill" and leased space to operate such grill from a complex across the street from the campus. Interviews indicated that this grill was to operate as an instructional program and would teach students from the Culinary Program.  Typically instructional programs that generate some revenue are open to get enough customers to train the students enrolled in the program.  The Best Grill only has one instructor and interviews indicated that there were about 30 students in the program.  However, the grill is open Sunday through Friday from 11:00 to 3:00 and appears to operate as any other restaurant open for business to the public.  The following is a reflection of losses incurred by the grill since its inception:

2002-03 Fiscal Year Loss   ($380,161.75)

2003-04 Fiscal Year Loss   ($300,657.26)

2004-05 Fiscal Year Loss   ($480,270.15)

2005-06 Fiscal Year Loss   ($552,700.65)

Additional Findings:

It would appear that this grill is more of an auxiliary type operation than an instructional one since it is open to the general public and not just used as instructional program.  The college should consider whether this operation needs to be closed.

  • All food for the best grill is ordered without obtaining purchase orders with prior approval from the business office.  Once the food is received they submit invoices and requisitions to the business office at the same time.  Interviews with the instructor stated that he could get a purchase order from the business office in "10 minutes" if needed. 
  • Since the college considered the Best Grill to be an instructional program, all work orders should have been approved by the Instructional Dean, after verifying that the live work was part of the course syllabus of the program at the time the work was performed.
  • The Best Grill performs catering services to private outside events in addition to school sponsored events.  Work orders are supposed to be prepared for each catering event.  We reviewed work orders for April 07 and it revealed that the outside private functions contained checks with deposit slips attached for services rendered.  For the internal catering functions, journal entries are supposed to be prepared charging the responsible department for the cost of the catering event.  We asked for but did not receive the journal entries to verify that funds were transferred to the responsible department.  However, in reviewing the purpose of the internal catering functions, some of the events appear to be highly questionable as to their legality to be paid from state funds as most appear to be functions that fed college employees.  The following is an example of the questionable catering events on April 07:

Business & Economic Department Advisory Bd. Luncheon     $385.90

Recruitment Division Meeting            $711.90

Secretary Breakfast          $225.00

  • The best grill cashier operations are allowed to operate independently from the business office.  They are not integrated with the College bookkeeping software.  They are allowed to make their own bank deposits and often by the same person who ran the cashier that day.  It appears that several employees would operate the cash register at various points during the day. 
  • Employees receive cash tips daily and credit card tips are being paid to them at a later date through the business office.  When asked about this, one employee stated that they easily make over $600 in a year from tips.  However, the business office does not issue a 1099 to these individuals for these tip amounts.
  • A review of the Best Grill 2005-06 profit and loss statement identified an alarming number.  The line item titled "Purchases for Resale" totaled $475,804.12 while total sales revenue was only $473,351.10.  It is inconceivable that the cost of food items in a restaurant would be more than its sales revenue.  Interviews revealed that the food inventory was not properly safeguarded as several employees had keys to the facility. 
  • The Best Grill appears to be operating without a fiscal budget.

Documentation:

Copies of work orders for April 2007 were obtained.  Copies of profit and loss statements were obtained.  Interviews were conducted with Cashier, Head Chef, Business Manager and President of Bishop State Community College.  Copies of catering menus were obtained.

Recommendations:

  • The college should consider whether the Best Grill operation needs to be permanently closed.
  • If the grill continues to operate as is, the operations should be reflected as an "auxiliary operation" on the books of the college instead of "instructional."
  • Purchase orders should be obtained from the business office for all food purchases by the best grill before ordering.
  • The College should establish policies over catering for internal functions to ensure that public funds are used in accordance with state laws and attorney general opinions regarding the feeding of employees.  Also, procedures should be established where work orders receive prior approval by the Dean of Instruction and the Business Manager before such events are accepted.
  • The business office should integrate the operations of the best grill with the College computer software system to provide for better controls over the best grill operations.  In addition, procedures should be established whereby the cashier should not be the person making the deposit.  The business office should assign someone to review the daily cashier session and cash register tapes of the best grill operation.
  • The College should seek a legal opinion as to whether the college or its employees would retain the tips.  If the employees are determined to be able to receive the tips, the college should ensure that the tips paid to employees at the Best Grill are reflected in their W-2's or 1099's.
  • The College should evaluate the operations of the Best Grill restaurant and determine the reasons why it is operating at such huge losses each year and take steps to ensure that its inventory and revenues are properly safeguarded.  An immediate audit should be conducted of all facets of the Best Grill operations.
  • An annual budget should be developed, approved, and used for the Best Grill operations each year.

Financial Operations / Business Office Oversight:

The business office has the oversight responsibilities for any financial operational unit at the main campus and branch campuses.  In addition to the Main Campus, the College has the following branch campuses:  Carver Campus; Central Campus; Southwest Campus.

Finding:  The College's business office is inadequately managed, has inadequate controls and supervision.

Additional Findings:

  •   Bishop State Community College operates a business office cashier office and a bookstore at the main campus and at each of the three branch campuses.  Each of the three branch campuses operate with a just one cashier at each campus.  These employees are each allowed to accept cash payments for tuition, fees, books and day care services.  They are also allowed to make the entries into the software system as well as make the daily deposit.  The operation of individual bookstores and cashier functions by one employee at each branch campus presents a lack of internal controls over cash that is inherent with one person operations. 
  • The cashier/bookstore operator at the Southwest Campus participated in the employee tuition waiver program.  The total waivers she received was $1,833 in employee tuition waiver for year 05-06 while at the same time receiving $4,050 in PELL grant funds.  She was registered for eight classes over two semesters and subsequent to the late registration period, she withdrew from 7 of 8 classes and still was paid $3,723 in cash for actually only completing one class. 
  • The business dean stated that an accountant approves requisitions, a secretary assigns purchase order numbers, and upon receipt of invoices, pays them using a check signing machine which affixes the dean's signature.  The business dean does not personally participate in any of these functions, and stated to the interviewers that she didn't "know what is going on" while these functions are performed.

Documentation:

Multiple interviews with business dean.  Letter provided by dean listing business office-related employees and their duties.  Review of miscellaneous records provided.

Recommendations:

  • Cash collections have an inherently high risk and the fact that the College operates branch campuses with one person cashier operations for the business office and bookstore presents a concern.  The branch campuses are within a close proximity of the main campus.  Therefore, it is recommended that the College consider consolidating the cashier functions and bookstore operations and providing these services only at the main campus.  If such consolidation of operations does not occur, the Business Office should increase its oversight and monitoring of the cashier and bookstore operations at the branch campuses and establish offsetting internal controls to compensate for having a one person operation and to ensure that all cash collections are safeguarded.
  • The College should conduct a timely satisfactory academic progress review and all tuition waivers granted should be closely monitored to ensure that the state board policy is being followed.  If employees who qualify for tuition waivers also qualify for financial aid, and subsequently withdraw, procedures should be in place to ensure that the financial aid is adjusted upon dropping classes by the employee. 
  • A detailed analysis of each individual cashier's daily cashier sessions should be conducted.
  • Immediate steps should be taken to correct major control weaknesses in the business office regarding purchase order and payment processing.

Construction Manager Contract:

Finding:  The College retained a construction firm as Construction Manager, based upon the recommendation of the former Chancellor, resulting in an additional $409,174.87 in costs for a recent construction project, resulting in apparently excessive costs based on the size of the project.

Interviews with President Kennedy revealed that after the award of the architects contract for the construction of the new Technology facility, that former Chancellor Johnson informed the President that this project at Bishop State Community College needed a Construction Manager, and she further indicated that he wanted her to use Hall-Taylor Construction Company for this purpose.  Records reveal that a contract was entered into with Hall-Taylor and that during the course of the construction project a total of $409,174.87 was paid to this company for Construction Manager services. 

The total costs for architect and construction manager fees together normally total 8 to 9% of the total contract.  In this case the cost of architects totaled $527,022.31 and the amounts paid to the construction manager totaled $409.174.87.  Together these expenses totaled 12.85% of the total contract for the construction of the technology facility.

Documentation:

Interviews with President Yvonne Kennedy.

A copy of the construction manager contract and list of payments made under the contract was obtained and reviewed. 

Recommendation:

It is recommended that the College take whatever steps necessary to limit the expenditure of funds for architectural and construction manager services combined to 8 - 9% or less of the total construction contract.  Construction management firms should be retained only where there is a demonstrated need beyond the scope of customary architectural services, and a reasonable value for such services has been established.

Outside Scholarships:

Finding:  The College routinely accepts funds from companies to pay the tuition and fees of employees of that company.  However, in some instances it was observed that the College actually accepted money from individuals and put these funds on deposit in an agency fund to be held until a certain student registers in future semesters.  Upon registration by the students the business office would utilize these funds to pay the tuition and fees of the student.  They called these deposits "scholarships" for the identified student.

Documentation:

Received a list of deposits made to the outside scholarship bank account. 

Interviewed Dean of Business about the purpose of each donation.

Recommendation:

It is recommended that the College not receive and hold contributions from individuals who designated the funds be used for a specific individual's future enrollment that may or may not occur.  These are not scholarships, especially when the individual could have just waited and paid the prospective students tuition upon registration.  This type situation could lead to an abuse of the federal tax donation laws with individuals erroneously viewing this as a tax-deductible donation.

Dual-Enrollment Comment:

The College has an agreement with the Mobile County School System to provide dual enrollment credits to high school students.  The agreement was requested but was not made available for review, however we observed checks received from the county school system and the college would immediately send a check back to the County School System for the same amount.  It would appear that since the college is granting college credit to the high school students that the college would receive some financial benefit.

 Nursing:

 Introduction

 On May 11, 2007, the Department of Postsecondary Education received a letter from the Bishop State Nursing Students entitled "A silent Cry for help!"  The letter was not signed, but incorporated the names and phone numbers of several individuals. The letter was routed to Governor Bob Riley's office as well as to Senator Phil Poole, and Senator Bradley Byrne, (now Chancellor of The Alabama College System).  The letter made the following allegations against the Bishop State Nursing Program:

  1. Lack of caring attitude regarding students' problems and fear of retaliation,
  2. Poor quality of nursing instruction,
  3. High attrition rate,
  4. Large number of students having to repeat classes resulting in re-paying of tuition,
  5. Extra points awarded to a few students resulting in those students receiving a passing grade,
  6. Failure of one nursing course within the first block  results in having to repeat the entire first block of nursing courses, and
  7. Lack of proper equipment for the nursing lab.

On June 7-8, and 14-15, 2007, a team reviewed the Licensed Practical and Registered Nursing programs, and aspects of the Funeral Services Program, and Commercial Food Services Program. Some written documentation was requested prior to arrival. However, not all documentation requested was made available on the date of arrival. The team reviewed documents from academic years 2001-2007, and conducted interviews with a total of twenty-eight nursing students (June 7-8, 2007).  The team also interviewed Dr. Yvonne Kennedy, President (June 8, 2007); Dr. Charles Blackledge, Dean of Academics (June 7, 2007); Ms. Barbara Powe, Director of Nursing (June 7, 8 and 14, 2007); Ms. Yvonne Foster, Counselor- Health Programs (June 7, 2007); and made observations during campus visits.

One of the allegations referred to the large number of students having to repeat classes, resulting in re-paying of tuition. Based on consultation of The Department of Postsecondary staff, the team recommends System-wide assessment of the nursing programs in collaboration with Financial Aid with regard to compliance with Title IV of Higher Education Act (Title IV). Regulations to be reviewed include practices covering: (1) Bringing programs into compliance with Education's Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) [SFA Handbook Vol 1, Chap, pp8-11; and Vol. 2, Chap 10, pp 176-181] (2) Reviewing "block progression" with regard to (F< >D) and need for remediation [SFA Handbook Vol 1, Chap 1, pp 3-4] (3) Ensuring compliance with regulation regarding updating the PPA to report substantive changes in programs already approved  [SFA Handbook Vol 2, Chap 5, pp 64-66; item#7]

Finding 1)  Bishop State Community College's Nursing program generates an excessive number of student grievances, the program's student grievances are generally not appropriately processed, are not properly documented, and the students are not all receiving student handbooks to inform them of the College's grievance policies.  Faculty and administrators at the College have not effectively responded to genuine student concerns from a significant portion of the body of nursing students regarding the quality of teaching in the program.

  The Nursing program at Bishop State Community College has a history of grievances and written complaints against the nursing department. Since 2002, approximately 56 documented filed grievances and 14 written complaints have been received in the department of nursing. Since the files were presented to the team in a chaotic state, team members spent time organizing student grievance files before the team was able to review them. Review of the grievances dated 2001 through 2007, written complaints, and interviews with key personnel as described above indicated the majority of complaints come from students enrolled in the first, second, and last blocks of the nursing curriculum.  (Refer to the attached tables -Table A regarding grievances, and Table B regarding written complaints.) Comparison of the printed nursing grievance guidelines with the files suggests that the grievance process is not always respected; further, the team was not always able to determine whether grievances had been resolved. During an interview on June 7, 2007, Dr. Charles Blackledge stated that in his professional opinion an on-site administrator of the program would significantly reduce the number of complaints.  In this regard, he expressed that the position of Director of Health Related Professions had been vacant since 2005, when the previous Director left.

When the President was interviewed and asked in her professional opinion what actions could be taken to decrease the nursing complaints, she stated that faculty and staff need to be more student friendly, increase dialog with students, and improve people skills.

The following comments were verbalized by the nursing students during interviews of the two groups, comprised of 24 students in one group and four students in the second group:

  • If I had a good car, I would go to another college.
  • There is no response when you go through the chain of command-it is like talking to a brick wall.
  • Instructors tell students they do not have time for them.
  • Some instructors do not have their voice mail or e-mail set up for students to contact them.
  • Instructors are not available.
  • One student commented that an instructor said "The school is set up for failure."
  • We are treated like children-we waited on an instructor for 1.5 hours yesterday.
  • "Instructors talk about each other in class, there is name calling and profanity used, they do not necessarily call the instructor's name, there are just known problems with the instructors,  they argue over clinical".
  • One student stated that she found ten errors on a test and informed the instructor who stated "Yes, I knew that, but I did not want to point it out to you".
  • Instructor arguing with students.
  • If you do not go to the teacher regarding your test score, you do not get extra points.
  • You feel like your head is on a chopping block.

In response to the team's question during an interview with the Director of Nursing on June 7, 2007, "Do all nursing students receive a copy of the student handbook?"  Ms. Powe responded that all students are supposed to receive a copy of the student handbook during orientation, but there is difficulty in securing enough printed copies of the nursing  student hand book for full distribution during nursing orientation. 

A chart describing the location of the policies relating to the handling of grievances is set forth at Attachment C.

Documentation: Review of Bishop State Nursing grievances and written complaints to the college. Interviews with the President, Academic Dean, Director of Nursing, Counselor - Health Programs and twenty-eight nursing students.  Bishop State's Student Handbook, Bishop State's Catalog and the Nursing Student Handbook, (numerous versions in effect for the years 2001-2007).

Recommendations:  

 1.         Investigate whether the Nursing program should continue with a separate Nursing Grievance Committee or simply follow college-wide grievance policies.

2.         Document nursing grievances and resolutions that were referred to the college's "Grievance Officers." 

3.         Provide professional development to all nursing faculty on the importance of student service.

4.         Fully distribute the student handbook during nursing orientation and

5.         Ensure printing of adequate copies of the nursing student handbook prior to orientation.

Finding 2): While it appears that the instructional staff in the nursing program possess at least minimum teaching credentials, and the College's passing rates on the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN exams have significantly improved, serious issues remain regarding the quality of instruction, and the interpretation of faculty evaluations.

The eight full-time nursing instructor Personnel files indicated that each nursing instructor possessed at least a Master's of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited institution in according to State Board Policy 605.02. 

Nursing student evaluations of instruction from academic years 2004-2007 were provided upon request to the team. The team reviewed several student responses. The instruction evaluation form included 33 items for students to provide a response of "almost always," "sometimes", and "rarely".  However, some of the separate Scantron "tally results" sheets reported more answers than questions. For example, one sheet from Spring 2006 indicated 40 items and one sheet from Spring 07 indicated 35 items. The items being evaluated were not indicated on the "tally results" sheets except by number, thus making interpretation of the results laborious and even impossible in some instances.  Few written comments by students were noted on the evaluations. The vast majority of the responses were recorded as "almost always" or "sometimes".  The following students' comments were noted for currently employed full-time instructors [sic]:

  • Spring 06-"Mrs. ------ is a very good Teacher I have enjoyed being in her Class.  She is what BSCC needs to keep their Nursing program going."
  • Spring 06-"The instructor sometimes starts class earlier than the scheduled time, but if she knows you got their before you were actually tardy she won't mark you tardy.  Overall she is a great instructor!"
  • Spring 07-"I do not feel that Ms.----- is a good instructor.  She lectured possibly 2 times the entire semester.  Her tests had questions on them from outside sources/different chapters/concepts than were asked for us to know and read.  She does not seem to care of our opinions on this matter and our entire class's grades have reflected this.-despite the fact that many of us did very well on the Hesi OB/ped. Section."
  • Spring 06-"One of the most well prepared, engaging instructors-uses variety (power point, handouts, critical thinking exercises, etc.) Instructors watch is 5 minutes early and starts class by that earlier time. Broken laptop equipment (not in instructor's control) needs to replace/repair."
  • Spring 2006­-"Ms. - is a great instructor, Ms. -seems to care a great deal about her students, I really enjoyed this Fundamentals class. The instructor was very knowledgeable and entertaining, Crown jewel of nursing program, Ms. - has been a wonderful instructor she is always willing to help not only with her class, but if you are having difficulty in others."
  • Spring 06-"The most through nursing instructor that I've had to date. "Mrs. ---is always in a good mood and very friendly and that is what I like in a teacher. It makes a teacher approachable. Some teachers make you feel like you're bothering them, but not Mrs. -- Mrs. ---is a very good teacher. She's funny and I would love to have her as my instructor again. We need more teachers like her. Mrs.-is an awesome teacher keeps it up. Mrs. -is a wonderful teacher-always willing to help students."
  • Spring 2006-"Ms. -is great! She is very positive and encouraging! Trys to make sure students understand material. Helpful in learning new concepts."
  • Spring 2006-"very pleased with- Mrs. -she is very clear and presice in her instructions and demonstrates fairness and respects to student. I enjoy Mrs. -class she explains things very clearly and seems to have a very positive attitude."
  • Spring 2006 -"I have learned a great deal from this course. This instructor clearly explains the lessons outlined. A very helpful instructor, always willing to help her students, Most notably had a study session for student on "her" time.  Mrs.-is an excellent instructor. Gives needed encouragement."

Approximately half of the students interviewed indicated they were in the second block of the nursing curriculum. The following comments were noted during the student group interviews:

  • The OB/Peds instructor never lectured in the second block.  She would just tell us to read the syllabus.
  • The instructors did not teach in the second block.
  • The teacher is not showing up for class or arriving excessively late.
  • The instructor does not know how to pronounce words.
  • The instructors are not being held to the level that they need to be.
  • The instructor was late to class and then had to set up for class.
  • All programs are good-I have no complaints.
  • Strengths-NCLEX passage rates, hours of the program, some instructors provide assistance, cheaper than other schools, and repeating courses allows one to know the stuff, if you make it you know it, several instructors are good, good pre-requisite courses, growing with classmates
  • I had a good experience as a LPN student. 
  • Retired nurses serving as adjuncts cannot keep up with nursing now.
  • There is an overflow of students and not enough adjuncts.
  • We need more instructors. They are overworked and are teaching multiple classes.
  • Instructors are not doing anything. 
  • We need a clinical coordinator so we are not stuck on a bad floor.
  • One student stated that she was in the third block and the only skills that she had completed were discontinuing a catheter and giving a bed bath.
  • Instructors are out of their comfort zone.
  • The NUR 105 teacher was thrown into the course.
  • The school is going to weed students out and they are passing the ones they think are going to do well on Boards. 
  • The instructors are not sure of the right answers to the questions and even if you show them the answer in the text you are not given credit for the answer.
  • We only had two test reviews last semester because the instructor stated we did not have time for review. 
  • We have to fight for our test grade and the instructor does not change the test for everyone.
  • More than one answer to some questions exists.
  • Teachers are not familiar with the questions and there are errors on the tests. Teachers dance around questions posed by the students. 
  • Test reviews are not consistently done.
  • Instructors are late to class and give us busy work to do that has nothing to do with the chapters we are studying.
  • Instructors do not stick to the syllabus and the objectives are not on the test.
  • We may take 2-4 tests without feedback. We got five grades back in one day.
  • Instructors are delivering misinformation.
  • All the tests are at the end of the course even if the syllabus says something else.  When students asked about a fourth test that the syllabus indicated, the instructor informed them that they would wish that they had not asked for the fourth test.
  • The clinical sites are teaching the students; the clinical instructors are competent.
  • One student remarked that they were doing more skills in the new curriculum than in the old curriculum.
  • In the second block the teacher lectures for a short time or reads the power point slides.
  • In NUR 106 we watch old films, are told to read the chapters, and do group presentations. The instructor only lectured for 3 weeks.  The last 7 weeks the instructor gave us chapters to read and tests.
  • Good school, not a good nursing program.
  • Do not put OB/Peds and Adult nursing in the same block.
  • The teachers need some workshops on how to teach.
  • Class time is being wasted. Students stated that they are being sent to the computer lab to go through a scenario for which they have had no preparation. 
  • The instructors are giving endless paperwork. 

In record year 2000-2001 Bishop State's RN program was "approved with warning" by The Alabama Board of Nursing. For the years 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Bishop State's NCLEX-RN results were 70.60% and 69.8%, respectively.  The College received a notice of deficiency from The Alabama Board of Nursing.

Bishop State implemented strategies for improvement and over the past two years, Bishop State Community College has had a 100% passage rate on the NCLEX-RN and a 90% or greater passage rate for NCLEX-PN. (Refer to the attached Table D). On June 9, 2007, the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission Peer Review Panel informed the Director of Nursing via a conference call, that the panel was recommending continuing accreditation for the Licensed Practical Nursing and Registered Nursing Programs for eight years.

Documentation:  Review of current full-time Bishop State nursing faculty personnel files. Review of results of student evaluation of instruction 2004-2007. Group interviews with 28 nursing students on June 7 and 8, 2007. Review of NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN results FY 2000-2006, as reported by The Alabama Board of Nursing. Interviews on June 7, 2007 held with Dr. Charles Blackledge, and Ms. Barbara Powe, on June 7, 8 and 14, 2007.

Recommendations: 

 1.         Continue to evaluate to nursing instructors, but consider revising evaluation methods to produce meaningful and useful data on faculty performance.

2.         Reevaluate the method of reporting the results of students' evaluation of instructors to incorporate the items being evaluated in order to expedite interpretation of the results.

3.         Analyze the student comments delineated above and implement strategies for improvement.

4.         Investigate the feasibility of hiring additional nursing instructors.

5.         Encourage and support professional development endeavors for nursing faculty in the areas of test construction and instructional methodologies.

6.         Encourage peer review of examinations prior to administration.

7.         Investigate the feasibility of establishing scheduled tutoring sessions and/or open lab hours to allow students the opportunity to seek additional instruction as needed.

8.         Further investigation of faculty evaluations by administration is needed.

Finding 3):  The Nursing program suffers from excessive attrition.

 Interviews on June 7 and 8, 2007 with 28 nursing students revealed complaints regarding the large numbers of students that were failing out of the nursing program.

Attrition rates for NUR 102, 103, 104, 105, and 106 for Fall 2005-Spring 2007 are delineated in the attached Table E.

Documentation:  Interviews with twenty-eight nursing students. Reviewed course grade sheets for NUR 102, 103, 104, 105, and 106 for Fall 2005-Spring 2007.

Recommendations:

1.         Review student records and survey departing students and faculty to determine the root causes of excessive attrition from the Nursing program.

2.         Develop new retention and student success strategies based on survey results with faculty and student participation.

Finding 4):  A local policy in the College's nursing program expels students for failing a single course in the first block.  This has required students to repeat and incur tuition costs for courses that they have successfully completed, and requires them to re-apply for admission to the program, likely impacting financial aid and student retention. 

   A review of nursing course grade sheets for NUR 102, 103, 104,105, and 106 from Fall 2005-2006 through Spring 2006-2007 revealed 33 students earned a "D" in a nursing course and subsequently repeated the course for which they made a "D".

Transcripts were reviewed for 22 students that failed the first block of nursing in the Fall 2006. According to the Director of Nursing, a student who fails at least one course in the first block of the nursing program must reapply as a new student and be re-ranked in order to be re-instated into the nursing program. This local policy is noted in the Nursing Student Handbook for 2006-2007. None of the aforementioned students were readmitted to the first block in the Spring 2007 according to an interview with Barbara Powe on June 19, 2007.  It is not known whether any of these students reapplied for admission as a new student. Refer to the attrition chart Fall 2005- Spring 2007 (Table E).

During the group interviews on June 7 and 8, 2007 one student stated that she had been in the nursing programs for six to seven years and one student stated she had been in the nursing program since academic year 2001.

Additional Findings:

  • 1. A student repeated an orientation class and earned grade of "A" both times enrolled as NUR AAS.
  • 2. A student with grades "I/P" in MTH 098 had the grades on the transcript for three terms, finally earning a passing grade on the 4th attempt.
  • 3. Student (while enrolled in GNE) passed ART 100 and retook ART 100 as nursing student in which ART was not a requirement for program (Ref to Handbook Vol 1-11: "This means you cannot award the student aid for classes that do not count toward his degree or certificate.").
  • 4. Students had multiple majors and course repeats noted within the limited number of files reviewed.

Documentation: Review of nursing course grade sheets for NUR 102, 103, 104, 105, and 106 from Fall 2005-Spring 2007.  Review of selected transcripts of students failing NUR 102, 103, 104, 105, 106 from Fall 2005-Spring 2007. Review of the Nursing Student Handbook for 2006-2007.  Nursing admission list for Spring 2007. Group interviews with twenty-eight nursing students on June 7 and 8, 2007.

Recommendations: 

1.  Repeal local policy that requires certain students to repeat courses that have been successfully completed and which expels students from program for the failure of a single course.  Reinstate students in accordance with the reinstatement policy of the Alabama College System.

2.  Review whether Title IV funds have been paying for repeating successfully-completed courses. 

3.  Review impact of this local policy on student success and attrition rates.

4.  Determine whether any students are entitled to adjustment of tuition accounts as a result of the policy.

 Finding 5):  Grade reporting records in the Nursing program reflect widespread grade changes and inconsistency between grade books and rolls, chaotic record-keeping, and lack of adequate security for grade records.

Documents provided for NUR 106 with regards to examinations, answer sheets, and Par Score reports were received by the team in total disarray. The grade book NUR 106 CE1 Spring 2007 revealed for one (apparent foreign-national) student a grade of 74.53 with a notation round up to 75%. The Par Score roster report on all test categories for the course in question reveals a final score of 74.23, which would normally not be rounded up. The final grade in the grade book has been written over and the course grade book for the class in question reveals a "C" for the aforementioned student. During the interviews with the students on June 7, 2007 one student stated that a man student from another country told them he failed the course and then passed.

The grades recorded in the grade book and on the Excel spread sheet provided by the instructor of record for NUR 103 CE 52, Fall 2006 do not match the grades that appear on the course grade roll sheet for the course in question for seven students.  All seven students have a higher letter grade recorded on the course grade roll sheet than in the instructor's grade book or on the Excel spread sheet. The instructor's grade books for NUR 103 and NUR 105 2006-2007 were noted to have some grades marked through and some grades written over. The instructor's grade book for NUR 106 Spring 2007 likewise had some grades written over and some grades scratched out with another grade appearing beside the scratched out grade.  Individual student reports printed from Par Score for NUR 105 Spring 2007 Exam #5 indicated numerous adjustments in red, the meaning of such adjustment not being readily identified. On the exam labeled #5 it appears that four points had been given to each student's grade. The Director of Nursing informed the team that nursing instructors often take their grade books home as someone had broken into the nursing instructors' offices.

A number of students interviewed from the Spring 2007 block complained that some students who had approached their instructors had been able to get their grades changed.

Documentation: Grade book and Excel spread sheet for NUR 103 Fall 2006.  Course Roll for NUR 103 Fall 2006.  Grade book for NUR 103 and NUR 105 2006-2007.  Grade book  for NUR 106 Spring 2007.  Individual student reports printed from Par Score for NUR 105 Spring 2007 Exam #5 and Par Score roster report on all test categories for NUR 106 CE1 Spring 2007. Review of nursing course grade sheet for NUR 102, 103, 104, 105, and 106 from Fall 2005-Spring 2007.

Recommendations:

 1.         Investigate the discrepancies in grades appearing in the grade book and the course roll sheets for NUR 103 CE 52 for Fall 2006. Investigate the grade in NUR 106 CE1, Spring 2007 noted in the grade book as "round up to 75%."

2.         Direct instructors to avoid marking through or scratching out grades recorded in grade books.

3.         Direct instructors to clearly indicate in the grade book if additional points are added.

4.         Encourage nursing instructors to re-run nursing grades through the Par Score after reviewing the item analysis for the examination if adjustments are needed.

5.         Grade books should not be removed from campus and should be stored in a secure location. Once a course is completed, campus wide, all course grade books should be turned in and kept by the registrar's office.

6.         Further investigation of student allegations regarding awarding of points to selected students that they might receive a passing grade is needed.

Finding 6):  The College's Nursing program has been using defective, worn and broken equipment, and outdated instructional media in some of its courses.

Upon observation the manikins in the skills lab were noted to be badly stained. The Director of Nursing stated that mold was a problem in Mobile and that mold had covered some of the manikins in the skills lab. 

Within the follow-up report to NLNAC, Bishop State delineates the utilization of technology within the instructional process.  According to the aforementioned report, the Multi-Media Center provided "...current supplemental materials such as textbooks, audiovisuals which includes tapes, DVD's, computer software, and journals."  Within the Multi-Media Center students also have access to the Alabama Virtual Library.  Bishop State also provides a nursing computer laboratory that houses thirty new computers with nursing software and virtual simulations.  "State-of-the-art technology is also evident in the nursing clinical laboratories with the availability of Laerdal SimMan Patient Simulator, Puritan/Bennett 7200 series Ventilatory System, patient mannequins, Virtual IV Simulator, Heart and Lung Sound Adult Simulators, Intravenous Training Arms, Intramuscular Injections Simulators, Male and Female Urinary Catheter Simulators, Wound Care Models, and Breast and Genitalia models."  The report also notes that the classrooms have access to , , the Internet and that TV/VCR combinations, LCD and overhead projectors, and an Elmo projector is available for classroom use.

However, during the student interviews the following comments were noted:

  • The equipment in the lab is outdated.
  • The tapes and equipment are from 1970-1980.
  • The su, ction machine caught on fire.
  • We had to put pieces together to make the suction machine work.
  • We need the proper equipment such as IV arms with return, suctioning equipment, ambu bags, and sterile gloves.  One student stated that he was using a "foam thing as an ambu bag".  He also stated that he was told to use his imagination in learning or practicing lab procedures with regard to missing or inoperative equipment.
  • Some students expressed concern for the safety and comfort of clinical patients who were given IV's for the first time by students who had had to "imagine" finding a vein in a defective practice manikin arm as their only pre-clinical experience.

Documentation:  Observations in the skills lab and computer lab.  Review of Bishop State's follow-up report to NLNAC.  Interviews held with groups of nursing students on June 7 and 8, 2007.

Recommendations:   

  • 1. Investigate strategies for mold prevention in the skills lab.
  • 2. Continue to update instructional media.
  • 3. Purge any out dated instructional media.
  • 4. Repair or replace missing or inoperative equipment.

  

COMMERICAL FOOD SERVICE

Finding 1):  An instructor in the College's Commercial Food Service program does not appear to have degree credentials appropriate to his position, and has engaged in questionable practices by receiving credit for courses he taught himself, and for other courses which were taught in time frames conflicting with his teaching duties.  This instructor has now been given additional responsibilities over a restaurant-based instructional program of questionable value.

A commercial food service instructor received credit for Commercial Food Service courses for which he was the instructor of record and for courses taught by another commercial food service instructor during time frames which overlapped the time frames of courses being taught by the instructor in question as noted in a letter of reprimand dated January 10, 2007.  Letters of reprimand were noted in both instructors' files dated January 10, 2007.  No further disciplinary action appears to have been taken by the College.  Review of the first instructor's academic transcript from the Southern Institute revealed neither a graduation date nor a degree awarded.  At the time of the review, the instructor had been placed in charge of the Best Grill instructional program, which has been shown to be losing increasingly large sums of money.  (See findings and recommendations under "Best Grill" heading)

Technical enrollment for Fall 2003 - Summer 2007 are located in Table F

Documentation: Review of letters of reprimand dated January 10, 2007, in commercial food service instructors' personnel files.  Review of document labeled "summary of the course integrity concerns" located in the instructor in question's file which was not dated. Review of enrollment figures for technical enrollment dated Fall 2002- Summer 2007.

Recommendations:

1.         Determine whether or not the instructor in question possesses degree credentials in accordance with State Board Policy 605.02.

2.         Continue to monitor the commercial food service program, including whether this instructor should be overseeing the "Best Grill" instructional program.

3.         Determine whether or not the courses were expunged as delineated in the letter of reprimand dated January 10, 2007. It is suggested that further investigation of the program is needed.

FUNERAL SERVICES

1) Finding:  According to an interview with a student enrolled in the funeral services program, there appear to be issues similar to those noted within the nursing program. 

A funeral services student contacted the team chair on June 11, 2007 when she heard a team was at Bishop State. The aforementioned student enrolled in the funeral services program was interviewed on the phone on June 12, 2007 and in person on June 14, 2007 and she expressed the following concerns:

  • Lack of test review even when requested.
  • Failure of the Restorative Art class for the third time.  She stated that black females cannot pass in this class.
  • She stated no African-American has completed the program since she began the program.
  • Lack of assistance from the instructor regarding placement in a funeral home in order to obtain apprenticeship needed.
  • Resources are available to assist white students.
  • Inappropriate discussion of sex in class.
  • Another student informed her that she failed all her tests, but that she still passed.
  • She stated that she heard instructor signed for someone to take Boards that did not graduate from Bishop State.
  • Failure of instructor to accept "D" in biology course from Faulkner for another student.
  • Failure of the college to provide her with a catalog when she requested one.
  • Feels as though her complaining to the Dean has been taken out on her.
  • The scantron marks the wrong answers on the test.

The student has failed the course entitled Restorative Art three times. (Refer to attached Table G regarding courses in the funeral service program from Fall 2004 -Spring 2007).

 Documentation: Interview with the student via phone on June 12, 2007 and in person June 14, 2007.  Review of the student's transcript revealed she has failed the course, Restorative Art three times. Review of current funeral services faculty personnel files. Course grades were reviewed for the funeral services program for Fall 2004-Spring 2007.

Recommendations:

 1.         Due to limited time of the team's review, there was not an adequate opportunity to pursue the student's concerns further. 

2.         The team recommends that further investigation of the Funeral Service program's policies, admission, and apprenticeship requirements are needed, given the similarity of this student's complaints to those which were heard in the nursing program.  In-depth reviews of other technical programs should also be considered.

3.         Technical courses should be analyzed for trends in enrollment, and compared to local and state market demand for technical training categories.

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