AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: Board recall effort misdirects energy

Pima Community College is currently on institutional probation and could face a loss of accreditation if operational changes aren’t made.

Pima’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, identified numerous failures during a visit last January. It placed much of the blame on PCC’s leadership, including the board of governors.

Community business leaders, faculty, staff and students have launched a recall effort to remove two members of the governing board, Scott Stewart and Marty Cortez.

The group, Citizens for PCC Integrity, will also campaign aggressively against Brenda Even, who is up for re-election this year.

Stewart, Cortez and Even all served on Pima’s board during the time that the problems identified by the HLC occurred. They have faced numerous calls for their resignations, including from the Aztec Press, since the college was placed on probation last April.

Although the intentions of those seeking new leadership at Pima are justifiable, a recall effort at this juncture will not benefit the college.

Any recall process requires about a year to unfold. It takes time to collect thousands of petition signatures, call a special election and mount lengthy, damaging campaigns before an actual vote can be held.

Citizens for PCC Integrity hopes the recall vote would occur during the regular November election.

But the college must finish its comprehensive self-study by July. The HLC is sending its fact-finding team in August or September to reassess the college and determine whether its concerns have been adequately addressed.

The self-study and HLC visit will take place well before new board members could be seated, let alone have a chance to make changes.

All the while, board members who should be focusing on restoring Pima will be distracted by a fight to keep their jobs.

If the embattled board members had resigned immediately after the HLC released its report, like they should have, there would have been time for new members to make changes. But that didn’t happen.

The besieged board members have refused to resign in part because they want to fix their mistakes. The alternative to not giving them a chance could very well mean Pima losing accreditation.

While it is clearly not an ideal situation and may indeed be a bitter pill to swallow, everyone who wants the college to succeed should work with the current leadership to make the changes required.

It is simply too late for anything else.

Written on behalf of the Aztec Press Editorial Board by Editor-in-Chief Andrew Paxton.

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