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2013 April 29 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Colo. House Kills Bill Allowing 4-Yr. Degrees at 2-Yr. Schools

DENVER (AP) — Bachelor’s degrees won’t be available at Colorado community colleges any time soon.

A House committee killed a bill that would have allowed two-year colleges to offer select four-year degrees.

The Senate had approved the legislation, which would’ve opened the door for community colleges to offer bachelor of applied science degrees in fields like dental hygiene or mortuary science.

Proponents argued those fields aren’t taught at Colorado’s four-year colleges and universities. Supporters also said the bill would provide students in rural areas better access to four-year degrees.

But legislators seemed concerned the state’s higher education budget could not support adding degree programs at community colleges. An estimate on the bill’s potential costs wasn’t given.

Lawmakers called for greater collaboration between community colleges and four-year universities to meet students’ needs.

  • Charges Filed in ‘Pell Runner’ Scam Revealed at Calif. College

SAN PABLO, Calif. (AP) — Several people face criminal charges in connection with a financial aid scam at a community college in Northern California, prosecutors said.

Those involved in the alleged fraud received tens of thousands in federal money to attend Contra Costa College in San Pablo and received passing grades in drama classes they never attended, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Contra Costa County prosecutor Dodie Katague told the newspaper that the “Pell runner” scam was discovered after one of the phony students came forward to the authorities.

Prosecutors say the scam was conceived by Yvette Hummel and her boyfriend, David Murphy, in 2011. The couple helped enroll nearly two dozen people at the college as students, helped them apply for financial aid and then took a 25 percent cut of the aid money.

Investigators, including the FBI and the Department of Education, realized all 22 people involved were sharing the
same two addresses belonging to Hummel.

Contra Costa Community College District spokesman Tim Leong said all the alleged students appeared to be eligible for Pell grants and were sent checks. The students told investigators they never attended any classes.

Hummel, who was charged with multiple felonies and conspiracy, was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and five years’ probation after pleading guilty in December to one count of felony grand theft, Katague told The Associated Press. She must also pay nearly $84,000 in restitution, Katague said.

Murphy also pleaded guilty to similar charges and received a 90-day jail sentence and was ordered to pay $5,550 in restitution.

Four other suspects have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft and each received one year of probation. An additional eight suspects are awaiting court dates, Katague said.

  • OSHA Issues Penalties in Garage Collapse

MIAMI (AP) — Federal safety regulators have penalized five contracting companies more than $38,000 combined for errors that caused last October’s collapse of a Miami Dade College parking garage that killed four workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations found evidence of missing welds and grout, failure to properly brace columns and failure to inspect the structure as required. OSHA also said contractors didn’t follow project drawings.

The five-story, $20 million garage at the college’s west campus collapsed Oct. 10. The OSHA violations were labeled as serious, which under federal law translates to a maximum $7,000 penalty.

Families of the workers killed have also filed lawsuits that could cost the contractors much more.

OSHA set an April 25 deadline for the problems to be fixed.

  • Ohio College Denied Nursing Accreditation

CLEVELAND (AP) — A nursing program at Cuyahoga Community College is fighting to keep its accreditation.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported that the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission recently voted to deny accreditation for the college’s two-year registered nurse program.

The commission said a majority of the RN program’s part-time faculty lack master’s degrees in nursing and the school hasn’t provided evidence that graduates are competently prepared.

Tri-C President Jerry Sue Thornton told the newspaper the dispute is over “meeting the letter of the law on their rules and regs.” More than 93 percent of the program’s students passed the 2012 state nursing board exam, above the state average.

The program is still state-approved and graduates who pass the state exam can still be licensed. Enrollment stands at 1,062.

  • Legislature OKs Wash. Alcohol Tasting Bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Legislature has passed a measure to allow 18-year-olds to taste — and spit out — alcohol in certain classroom settings.

The measure now heads next to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee.

The bill would allow community and technical colleges to offer alcohol to students as part of a culinary or alcohol-technology degree program.

Senate Bill 5774 passed out of the House by a vote of 89-4 after advancing from the Senate last month. A similar measure passed out of the House last month and has advanced to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • Police: Report of NJ College Shooting a Hoax

LYNDHURST, N.J. (AP) — Police say a student at a New Jersey community college has been arrested and charged after falsely reporting a shooting on campus that lead to the school being locked down.

Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins says 23-year-old Stephanie Ballinger of Lyndhurst was arrested and charged with making false reports to law enforcement and other charges. Higgins says Ballinger was released Friday afternoon and it was not known if she had a lawyer.

Police say Ballinger called and texted her estranged husband, claiming she had witnessed a man shoot himself in the parking lot of Bergen Community College, where Ballinger is a student. The husband, stationed in Florida with the military, immediately called New Jersey police.

The call lead to a lockdown of the college’s Lyndhurst campus.

  • W.Va. Colleges Join Partnership To Ease Transfer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The University of Charleston and Blue Ridge Community & Technical College have signed an agreement to make it easier for students to transfer to the university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Students who complete their associate degree at BRCTC will be eligible to graduate from the University of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in two years. They would then be eligible for graduate school at the university.

The University of Charleston is a 125-year-old private, independent college with locations in Beckley and Martinsburg.

BRCTC President Peter Checkovich said offering a smooth transition a higher degree will make students more likely to take advantage of the opportunity.

  • Wash. Senate Leader: ‘Dream Act’ Is Dead

SEATTLE (AP) — State Senate majority leader Rodney Tom says a measure that would have opened need-base college aid to immigrants living without permission in the country is dead.

Tom told the Yakima-Herald Republic the measure dubbed the Washington Dream Act will not receive a vote on the floor this session, essentially killing its chances until next year.

Tom’s comments are the latest nail on the measure’s coffin. In late March, Senate Higher Education Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, said the bill would not receive a committee vote.

Bill proponents had held out hope a procedural move would be used to bring the measure to a floor vote. Tom says that’s not going to happen.

  • College Proposes Banning Tobacco On W.Va. Campus

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is considering banning tobacco use on its campus.

If approved, the ban would be in effect when students begin the fall semester in August.

The Journal reports that the Martinsburg college’s Board of Governors discussed the proposed ban at its April meeting.

Human Resources vice president Justin Ruble says information will be provided to faculty, staff and students this month. Public comment will be accepted until May 3.

He expects the board to review the proposal again in June.

West Virginia Northern Community College banned tobacco use last year.

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