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A Closer Look At The Independent Investigation Into MCCCD

By Carrie Jung, Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 2:49pm
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 3:55pm
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The results of an independent investigation into allegations of document tampering and email monitoring at the Maricopa County Community College District are in. Investigators say they found no evidence to support the claims, however they did find “very serious departmental issues within the District.”

MORE: Investigation Finds No Evidence Of Forgery, Email Monitoring At MCCCD

KJZZ’s education reporter Carrie Jung has been reading through the 145-page investigation report and joins us on The Show.

LAUREN GILGER: Carrie, first let’s rewind for just a second here. What exactly did employees say district officials did wrong?

CARRIE JUNG: So all of this came to light at the governing board’s February 28th public meeting when the employee group known as the Classified Staff Council or CSC delivered a presentation.

The first was that someone from the Human Resources department was monitoring emails of a CSC email distribution list that was assumed to be confidential. The second was that a HR staff member improperly demanded a CSC leader to remove a member from a district committee. And then the third and most serious is an allegation that a district officially tampered with an employee policy document.

LAUREN: So, if the report came back finding no evidence supporting these allegations, what happened exactly? Especially with the document tampering claims. How did investigators explain how signatures from 2015 were found affixed to what was essentially a new document?

CARRIE: When you read the report from Ogletree Deakins, which is the law firm the district hired to investigate these issues, it says while there was no evidence of “intentional forgery” they did recognize that the HR department erroneously published an altered written agreement. So, on the surface, I remember thinking at first that sounds like forgery, but when you read through the report’s sequence of events, it says the issue was more a result of a lack of document and version control.

The report says the document in question here was posted to the HR website, then taken back down, edits were made to it, sometimes in Word, other times in the PDF version, there was no naming convention used, and then on top of that no one in the HR department was willing to take ownership as the custodian of this document to follow the changes. Investigators added there also seemed to be a lack of understanding by HR that the document they were editing and emailing back and forth as a working document was actually a signed agreement.

LAUREN: OK, so not forgery, but that still sounds like there are some pretty serious issues going on.

CARRIE: You’re right. Maricopa Community College District chancellor Dr. Maria Harper Marinick sent an email out to employees yesterday about the investigation results saying she’s taking the report seriously. Matt Hasson is a district spokesman and he told me this:

MATT HASSON: The chancellor is committed to addressing those issues. There’s not a timeline per se but she’s got to consider this report in its entirety. She’s going to evaluate her options and make a decision that’s best for the system.

CARRIE: I did reach out to CSC officials, the group that made the allegations, and they did not immediately return my request for comment after they found out the results of the investigation.

LAUREN: Hearing this makes me think back to 2013 when the district was the subject of this massive computer security breach and hack. When the details came out there, I remember hearing similar patterns of employees not telling managers about the severity of an issue, and just general department disarray. Is this situation at all connected?

CARRIE: Well, directly, no, it doesn’t seem to be connected. These are different departments and different issues. But you’re right, we are hearing similar stories here. Now, the district does have a new Chancellor this time around, so I guess only time will tell how she responds to this and if it leads to more trust in the HR department and leadership in general.

LAUREN: All right. We should mention KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District. Carrie Jung, thanks.

CARRIE: You're welcome, Lauren.

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