Seven months after the Troubleshooters first began reporting on alleged *unauthorized grade changes at Coastal Bend College’s LVN Nursing program, the results of a state investigation into the college are out.
The Troubleshooters first broke this story in May, and tonight this is what the state has uncovered.
The investigation into Coastal Bend College was done by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The results, just released to us late yesterday, show the CBC did not have processes to appropriately and consistently administer grade changes.
The board’s report further indicates that their investigation into this matter was inhibited because ‘staff felt intimidated and threatened by the possible loss of their job if they were found to have been providing information or otherwise cooperating with the auditors.’
In its response, the school said ‘CBC management has no knowledge of where such “threats” are originating.’
The investigation was largely the result of 27 grievances filed against the college by former Interim Vice President of Instruction and Economic Development, Dr. Matilda Saenz, who told us about a culture of fear and intimidation at the school.
The Troubleshooters obtained copies of some of those grade change forms in May.
According to Saenz, the forms signed by faculty, came only after they were coerced by Assistant Dean Loana Hernandez.
A CBC student claims she’d received from Hernandez.
The student thought she had failed a nursing class, only to be notified her grade had been changed.
Saenz, who was the college’s chief academic officer, claims she was never consulted about the grade changes, calling them ‘fraud’, and the most glaring violation of a faculty’s integrity.
“At any other college I would have been at, that registrar would have been gone. Miss Hernandez would have been gone,” she told us at the time.
Yet, according to Saenz, those who refused to sign were threatened with a ‘discipline notice’ for non-compliance.
In its response to this report, the college promises stricter and more detailed procedures to its grade change policies.
“Let me very clear, these allegations are both unfounded and without merit,” Espinoza said about our reports in an edited soundbite on their Facebook page.
The school fired Saenz 2 days before her contract was to expire in August, but not before she endured questionable behavior from the school’s Board of Trustees and head of security at a June Board meeting.
“Instead, a climate of intimidation and fear exists at this college, substantiated by the daily, blatant attempts to hide truth, to breed corruption, and to exclude the truth from the taxpayers and citizens of Bee County,” Saenz told the Board.
When Dr. Saenz tried addressing the Board and Espinoza at a regularly scheduled June meeting, board member Martha Warner walked out.
And as Saenz continued speaking, the school’s Director of Public Safety Kevin Behr walked right in front of her and called police.
The school even hired an outside p-r firm to answer our requests for comment on information in our reports.
The firm called one of our reports ‘inaccurate on many levels, and asked that we make ‘several corrections.’
The Board’s final report also asks the CBC to refund more than a quarter of a million dollars in questionable reported expenses.
And lastly, the report mentions the CBC did not properly administer the Nursing Shortage Reduction Program during fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
The results of this report will be presented to the full THECB in January.
Our credibility has been questioned as we’ve covered this story.
But the results of this investigation prove the information we reported was accurate.