DODGE CITY, Kan. (KWCH) A FactFinder 12 open records request prompted the Dodge City Community College board of trustees to release information into potential criminal allegations against administrators
Investigator Devon Fasbinder requested a copy of an audit completed by the Glendenning Law Firm that brought allegations to light involving potential nepotism, misuse of funds and issues with certified instructors.
The DCCC board of trustees met in executive session Friday to discuss the open records request along with the board's attorney and administration.
It was revealed after the executive session that the attorney advised the board to deny the request but instead, release information about the audit.
The attorney said the audit found allegations including a gun and ammunition delivered to the home of a DCCC administrator with no receipt reported and the use of the guns had nothing to do with DCCC. Another allegation included an administrator got additional pay to teach a guided studies course for which he was not qualified. The wife of an employee was hired as an adjunct instructor to teach a guided studies course for which she was not qualified, according to the audit. A fourth allegation is that a college administrator created "questionable certification for an adjunct instructor, had them signed by a College instructor and submitted them for inclusion in the College records of faculty qualifications."
In an executive session on June 27, the attorney said the Glendenning Law Firm reported it's findings to the board. At that time, the board gave the audit over to the Ford County Attorney for potential criminal charges.
The attorney said the board believed the audit itself is exempt from open records because of a potential criminal investigation and charges, releasing the report could interfere with potential litigation and the report could potentially compromise further investigation or personnel actions.
However, the board said in the statement, it believed the investigation does need to be made public.
Following the release of the findings, Trustee Floris Jean Hampton said the board has had a lengthy discussion on the audit and said it's "not a pleasant situation" to be in. But she said the issues have to be addressed because the public entity comes first.
Dr. Morris Reeves then said he wanted to compliment the administration of DCCC for looking into the situation. He said the administration and board have to protect accreditation and they are working hard to clean this up.
Then, Trustee Gary Harshberger said he wants the entire audit released for the sake of the taxpayers, though he understands and respects the attorney's advice. He said he believes taxpayers deserve to know all of what's in the report, as the statement read at the meeting wasn't all-encompassing.
He said he believes "nepotism is a big driver in this" and that nepotism leads to conflicts of interest, decay in culture and ultimately corruption.
Harshberger said in this situation, people did things for self interest and financial gain knowingly putting the college in jeopardy of accreditation issues. He said there is a small group of people conducting bad behavior and ultimately, the students and the taxpayers pay the price.
Clearly frustrated with the findings, Harshberger then spoke of other issues he feels need to be public. He said it's "troubling to see" before turning his attention to Trustee Terry Malone.
Harshberger and Malone went back and forth about campaign promises and accusations including trying to dismantle the administration. Reeves pounded his gavel several times and advised the men to continue the talks elsewhere.
The attorney finished by saying once the County Attorney has had time to review the allegations in the audit, the release of information will be re-visited.
*Editor's Note: We previously reported that Trustee Gary Harshbegger said in the meeting that the DCCC radio station has not been licensed since 1996. His statement is incorrect and we have taken that line out of this article.