In our Troubleshooters Special Report last night about allegations of unauthorized grade changes in the Coastal Bend College’s LVN Nursing Program, we showed video of the nursing program’s graduation earlier this week.
For clarification, those graduates did ‘not’ receive any grade changes that would have allowed them to get pinned and walk across the stage.
In fact, they had to pass a test given by a third party and thus have met all necessary graduation requirements.
We apologize for any misunderstanding.
Tonight, some students, faculty, and administrators tell the Troubleshooters about a culture of fear and intimidation they say exists at the college.
Blanca Padilla says she was passing all her nursing program classes at Coastal Bend College until, she admits, she gave an administrator a piece of her mind.
"So you were kicked out of the program ? For being a bully and for being rude to the Dean."
Padilla says she’s still a student at the school.
Melanie Reeves was one of her nursing instructors.
After ten years at the school, Reeves says she felt forced to resign after being ‘written up’ for not going along with unauthorized student grade changes.
"And if you don’t go along with it, then you’re pretty much gone, or they make your life miserable," she told the Troubleshooters.
Many of the grade changes Reeves is talking about were made without faculty authorization.
Without Reeves’ authorization.
Many of the grade change forms only have Dean Julia Garcia and Assistant Dean Loana Hernandez’s signatures and were approved by the registrar.
School Vice President Dr. Matilda Saenz weighs in.
"At any other college I would have been at, that registrar would have been gone. Miss Hernandez would have been gone."
School President Dr. Beatrice Espinoza, her sister, Dean Garcia, and Assistant Dean Hernandez, are the people Reeves, Padilla, and others are referring to when talking about fear and intimidation and retaliation at the school.
Shortly after being hired as vice president by Espinoza in 2017, Saenz wrote this open memorandum to ‘concerned parties.’
From her observation, the main issues at the college were nepotism, intimidation, lack of integrity, lack of professionalism, and disregard for policies and procedures.
With regard to President Espinoza and Dean Garcia being sisters, Saenz wrote ‘nepotism exists at it’s worst at CBC such as Dean Garcia’s email to me. ‘There cannot be changes done until I approve them.’
"Well I’m supposed to be the buffer between the president and the sister, but really none exists. None exists," she told us by phone.
On intimidation, Saenz’ memo read ‘if Dean Garcia knows something, even if not true or if partially true, she reports the information to the president and the president will act on that knowledge usually to the detriment of that employee or student.’
By phone, Reeves told us "I was scared #1 because one, are they gonna fire me because I didn’t sign that ? This is a job that I love. I put my heart and i put my soul into those classes and those students."
But perhaps most damaging was Saenz’ observation of a lack of integrity, writing ‘CBC is decaying more rapidly now at the will of the president: the long-term abuse of more than 6 years of power and unbridled authority exist on the part of the 2 sisters.’
She calls it a cover-up.
Saenz revealed that she is the school’s 5th vice president in the last 5 years, and says she’s leaving when her contract expires in August.
Could there be more change in the school’s future ? There are 2 new board members after a recent election.
Again, the nurses who graduated earlier this week, did not receive any grade changes.
They passed tests and met all requirements necessary to get pinned and walk proudly across the stage.
After our story aired last night, we received an email from the CBC’s spokesperson Bernie Saenz, reminding us that he offered to speak with us about the grade changes.
But we declined.
We reminded him by phone and text that we made it clear, we wanted to speak with Dr. Espinoza and/or Dean Garcia on camera, by phone, or have them issue a statement.
He has not responded.