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2012 May 28 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Virginia Settles College Fraud Suit For $2.4M

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The state will pay 73 former Virginia Western Community College nursing students a total $2.4 million to settle a fraud lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed the former students were misled after the school didn’t inform them that it lost its national nursing accreditation.

The plaintiffs were in the nursing program between 2005 and 2007. They argued that the state breached a contract for their education, harming their prospects for employment or for pursuing an advanced degree.

Virginia Western says it wasn’t shown that the plaintiffs were negatively affected. But the college says settling the case and moving on is in the best interest of current and future students.

  • ND University To Partner with Minn. College

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The University of Mary has announced a partnership with a community college in Minnesota.

The four-year Bismarck school is partnering with the two-year Alexandria Technical and Community College in Alexandria, Minn., to offer undergraduate degrees in business management, criminal justice, human resources and applied sciences.

Students will be able to complete their degrees without leaving the Alexandria campus. Mary will lease space on that campus and hire faculty and staff to coordinate and administer the courses.

In the past year, the university also has entered into a course-transfer agreement with Bismarck State College and into an agreement with Arizona State University to offer degrees in Catholic studies and theological studies.

  • NJ College Fires Athletic Director In Ethics Flap

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (AP) — Leaders of a county college in New Jersey have fired the school’s athletic director, claiming he violated its code of ethics.

Brookdale Community College trustees made the decision to fire Frank Lawrence during a special meeting Friday.

School officials accused Lawrence of improperly handling cash and deposits; paying himself money he shouldn’t have received and creating discrepancies in documentation and payments for students who worked at a scholastic tournament.

Lawrence didn’t deny paying himself $200 in cash out of the tournament’s proceeds.

However, Lawrence claimed he followed procedures that had been in place for several decades, and said other Brookdale officials knew of the practice but never ordered it halted.

Lawrence’s supporters sharply criticized the trustees decision, saying the board was focusing on a narrow malfeasance by Lawrence and ignoring his years of dedication to the school.

Lawrence had been suspended in March 2011, after the allegations were raised. And state Administrative Law Judge Donald Stein had issued a ruling in April, saying it would be an adequate punishment for what occurred.

However, Stein’s decision was nonbinding. And Matthew Giacobbe, the school’s labor attorney, told the trustees that firing Lawrence was justifiable

  • Dual Enrollment Bill Approved By Miss. Legislature

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers have passed a bill that will allow high school dropouts and potential dropouts to enroll at community colleges, earning a high school diploma while getting worker training.

The state already has a law allowing such dual enrollment. But, Gov. Phil Bryant has been pushing Senate Bill 2792, saying it will be an alternative for some students in danger of not completing their education.

The Senate already gave final approval to the measure, and Bryant says he intends to sign it into law.

Students would not be charged community college tuition. Local K-12 school districts would receive state aid for students being taught at the colleges and reimburse the colleges.

The program would be implemented statewide beginning next fall, once K-12 and community college officials work out the details.

  • Maine Veteran’s Family Starts Scholarship Fund

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (AP) — The family of a Maine man who served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam has set up a scholarship to help veterans get a college education.

The family of Paul LaFond donated $50,000 to the Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges to establish the Col. Paul D. LaFond Veterans Scholarship in honor of their father’s Marine Corps career.

The donation was matched by the Maine Community College System, so $2,500 scholarships can be provided to as many as 40 veterans next fall.

The longtime Skowhegan resident died last year at age 89.

One of his sons tells The Portland Press Herald his father believed deeply in the value of a college education, especially for veterans.

Paul LaFond earned a degree from the University of Maryland.

  • NY Woman Gets 15 Months in Loan Scam

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York woman has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and has to pay restitution after listing her former landlord as co-signer on a $23,300 student loan.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says 24-year-old Brianna Greene of Buffalo and a co-defendant also forged letters from Erie Community College and the unknowing landlord’s employer to get the loan in 2005. Prosecutors say Greene and co-defendant Jason Hall used the same method to obtain two more private student loans in 2006.

Hall was sentenced in February to one month in prison and seven months of home confinement. Greene’s prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release.

  • Ala. Legislature: End Pensions After Corruption

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to legislation cutting off the state pensions for public employees who commit crimes related to their government positions.

“The state should not provide taxpayer-funded pensions for those who abuse the public trust,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur.

Orr’s bill won approval in the House 67-16 after clearing the Senate 22-0 in February. It now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley.

The bill applies to future cases because of legal problems with trying to make it retroactive.

Orr said support for passing it stemmed from cases like former community college chancellor Roy Johnson and former state Rep. Terry Spicer, who pleaded guilty to taking bribes.

The bill provides that active or retired public employees who are convicted of crimes related to their public positions will forfeit the state-paid portion of their pensions, which is the largest part.

They would get back the portion of their salaries they paid toward their pensions, plus interest. If they have been retired long enough to receive the money they paid into the state pension system, then they would get nothing.

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