Students taking classes during the Extended Spring term were shocked to find out that the courses they were told would transfer to universities for Fall 2013 are in jeopardy of being rejected.

Students taking classes during the Extended Spring term were shocked to find out that the courses they were told would transfer to universities for Fall 2013 are in jeopardy of being rejected.

The administration has been embroiled in a controversy since last year over its decision to cancel the Winter Intersession. Students complained to the board of trustees that their university admission was contingent on their classes being completed by the end of the spring semester.

The cancellation of the Winter Session left a lot of students unable to transfer. That’s when the administration guaranteed students that it would schedule courses in what was to be called Extended Spring thus allowing the classes to be accepted by the universities.

Both the UC and CSU systems do not generally accept classes for transfer if they are not completed before the spring term, no matter when the term ends, according to their admissions requirements guidelines.

The college has known about the problem since early June, but students were just notified on Thursday. That is when the counseling office e-mailed all students taking classes in Extended Spring saying the term would now be called “Summer” on transcripts because the college found itself in noncompliance with Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. If the Extended Spring term were kept non-compliant, the college would have been at risk of losing up to $16 million in Prop.30 funding, according to officials.

Dr. Robert Bell, senior vice president of student and learning services, advised students who have concerns about their classes transferring to contact the PCC Counseling Office at (626) 585-7251, or by email at complete@pasadena.edu.

Robert Miller, senior vice president of business and college services, explained that a major miscommunication between the college and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office led to the fiasco with Extended Spring classes no longer being transferable for those planning to transfer in Fall 2013.

Major Miscommunication

The college was at first assured by the Chancellor’s office that it was in compliance with Title 5, section 55722, which allows the college to make a flexible calendar within an academic year, Miller said. However, that same section requires the college to have its flexible calendar approved by the Chancellor’s Office, and it must meet specific requirements.

Miller said the Chancellor’s Office contacted the college in late May to express concerns it had about the Extended Spring term and possible noncompliance with Title 5.

“The Chancellor’s office said yes, and then on further consideration and closer review of code sections, they said no,” he said. Attempts to reach the Chancellor’s office for comment were unsuccessful.

Miller added that if the college chose to consider Extended Spring part of the spring semester and not as a summer term, the college would have fallen out of compliance which would translate into a loss of up to $16 million in funding.

The state requires the college to enroll a specific number of Full Time Equivalent Students (FTES) to obtain Prop.30 funding. The minimum FTES the college needs to get funding this year is 19,640, according to Miller. By making Extended Spring a summer term, the college will meet its requirements and is expected to receive more than $16 million in Proposition 30 funding. Miller explained that the money would go towards adding classes.

Proposition 30 was passed by voters on Nov. 7 last year, and its aim was to give California Community Colleges funding for classes, according to its website.

“Our goal is to offer as many sections as we can to be as efficient as we can to maximize student access,” he said. If the Extended Spring students were not counted as part of the summer term, the college would be losing some of that money, Miller said.

Dr. Bell agreed with Miller. “We needed to maximize our FTES,” he said. Because the college made Extended Spring a summer term, the college will be able to offer classes in the second summer term.

Ensuring Transfer

Under Bell’s leadership, the administration and counseling department are creating a game plan to contact universities for students who are concerned that their Extended Spring classes will not be accepted for Fall 2013 transfer. So far they are concentrating on students who have told counselors that they expect problems transferring.

“We are working in groups with a team captain, so to speak, to contact schools in a hyper focused manner,” Bell said.

Each team will work with universities to re-inform them of the situation with Extended Spring on transcripts, and will advocate for self-identified students who say which universities they were planning on transferring to. The teams will begin their work on Monday, June 24, and they will have until July 15, the transfer deadline date, to complete their work of getting each at-risk transfer student transferred.

So far, the college has heard from 41 students concerned about transferring, Miller said. Â However, many more may be affected.

The e-mail from counseling was sent out to all 8,400 students who took the Extended Spring term. It explained the situation of transferability and was designed to give students who didn’t know about the problem a chance to get help from the college in transferring.

“We are working in the best interest of students,” Bell said. “I’m confident we will be able to get [all Fall 2013 transfers] done.”

If winter were kept, this wouldn’t have happened

If the college had kept the Winter Intersession, those who planned to transfer this fall and took classes then, would have had no issues transferring to their respective universities.

According to Simon Fraser, former Associated Students president and current student trustee, just renaming the Extended Spring term is a result of poor planning.

“We jumped in without foresight and without research,” he said. “”I warned [the administration] that this would be an issue. I stand by my belief that the best decision for the college is to have a Winter Intersession.”

Bell admitted that if a winter intersession were still in place, few issues with transfer would have occurred. “But it’s not all about that,” he said. “Knowing everything I know, I don’t think it will happen again next year.”

A calendar with a winter intersession, which is recommended by the Calendar Committee, is waiting for its consideration by the board of trustees.

The big question that remains is whether the college will add a Winter Intersession for the next school year.

Comments

    1. Rocha and General Counsel Gail Cooper remind me of something very unpleasant I removed recently from the bottom of my shoe after walking across the lawn in front of the C Bldg.
      Will they ever leave? I mean they are like the plague, they’ve been ruinous to our campus!!!

      1. Yes mike, and I wonder if the students who are complaining about the Board and the elimination of Winter Intersession are going to bother to vote at the next election and elect new Board members. Like this video (entitled Firefighters’ Pensions Burn Calif. Cities) says, it is just as important to pay attention to the people at the bottom of the ballot as the candidates for President and Senators.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M6qmsWzrSg

  1. Below is a link to email communications between PCC Vice-President Bob Bell and various California universities on the issue of Summer session transfers. Please note the dates on the emails, as that the majority of communication between Dr. Bell and the universities took place in early March 2013, and AFTER:

    1) The Associated Students began contacting the four-year institutions themselves in response to administrative negligence, and

    2) The Associated Students had approved a censure and vote of no confidence on the PCC administration on February 27, 2013.

    By March 15, 2013, the administration had announced the renaming of Summer Session 1 to “Extended Spring.”

    VP Bob Bell Emails Re: Summer Transfers (March 2013).pdf
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1vecM4OAfy7RlliZy1LVVFCMDA/edit?usp=sharing

    1. Please, give me a break! Have you seen the report? Apparently the fact finder only got $300 for the full-day meeting + a few days of thinking and writing to write it up. I seriously question what the fact finder, who sided heavily with the administration on 95% of the issues, used for his ‘facts’. (Of course, no one will ever know, since the administration resorted to non-transparent, fascist-like methods by kicking out the court reporter and insisting on a closed hearing).

      PERB has ruled in favor of the college keeping the STATUS QUO. In my mind, the status quo is BEFORE changes were made, ie: a calendar WITH winter. How can the status quo be one academic year amongst many in which winter was unilaterally imposed on the school? That’s the status quo? The fact finder’s report seemed to simply echo the administration’s own intentions to roll-over the calendar, but that is hardly the status quo.

      The Board should reinstate winter because they haphazardly instituted their very own non-academic calendar without the shared input of the college and ignored the 2012-2013 calendar that had been developed by students, faculty and staff, who actually KNOW about education and the students’ needs.

      The Board should reinstate winter because PCC students are in dire need of a winter intersession.

      The Board should reinstate winter because the school needs the FTEs and the money it generates.

      This has nothing to do with the union or PERB.

  2. How does something like this happen at such a big school? The college just found out it was noncompliant!!!!! How can that be? Surely there must be someone in charge of making sure the college has enough students enrolled to qualify for state funds. With all the vice presidents at PCC, you mean nobody has the job of keeping track of the student numbers and the funding?

    When the decision was made to cancel the Winter term, do you mean nobody took the time to count the enrolled students to see if that would be a problem? Obviously, the answer is no. Maybe there is not a budget shortfall at PCC either, perhaps it is just that nobody in the administration knows how to keep track of all those big numbers.

    That is more than shocking to hear that the college had to be informed by the Chancellor’s Office that it wouldn’t be in compliance with Title 5. As I read this article, I couldn’t help but wonder how all the students who protested the cancellation of the Winter Intersession knew there would be problems, and the administration didn’t have a clue.

    1. It’s not that they didn’t have a clue- they didn’t care. They pushed their agenda, the Board failed to ask critical questions or demand answers, and no one listened to the faculty and students who warned them. The faculty-student-staff committees in place spent a whole year vetting the process only to have been ignored by the administration and Board. Last year the Calendar Committee never sent through a trimester calendar and told the Board they did not approve the new calendar that Rocha was recommending. This year, the same thing – the Calendar Committee voted on a calendar WITH winter and formally recommended it to the Board. The faculty Senate voted unanimously in support. I can’t see the Board going with the one shared-governance bodies approved. I can see them change minor details so that they ‘own’ it and save face.

      If PCC gets winter back, it’s only because their scheme snowballed. If the Board cared about what students and faculty have been telling them since August 29, 2012 non-stop, they would have brought back winter for 2013-2014 months ago.

      1. I have never understood why Rocha was so dead-set on pushing through that schedule change on such short notice. From the start, he alienated pretty much everyone on campus and created all manner of problems, which are still playing out. And he gained, what? Anybody have insight into this?

  3. This article is very well written – thank you Ms. Michaels for informing the campus community.

    This is the most troubling:”If the Extended Spring students were not counted as part of the summer term, the college would be losing some of that money”. By the looks of things, the school is not suffering financially.

    Also, the fact that the school knew since earlier this month but waited until the very last day of the semester when students were taking their finals to let them know is despicable.

    The school PROMISED (essentially either lied or simply didn’t know) that there wouldn’t be a transfer problem. They sent around glossy fliers to all faculty mailboxes the week after they cancelled Winter back in August of last year, took out a full-page ad in the Courier 2 weeks in a row, assuring everyone there would be no change. BEFORE making this change, they should have gotten the go-ahead from the Chancellor’s Office; they should have not waited until May to investigate this. Bell’s team should not be waiting until Monday to start their work…why didn’t they start earlier and let the students know sooner?

    The damage is done. The students and faculty tried to warn them. This is Mark Rocha’s brilliant idea, pushed it to the Board, they approved. The Board needs to save face by removing Rocha from his post ASAP before he brings more damage to the school. But instead, since March they have only been sending out statements of full support for him. If I were a student – transferring or not – I would be furious, and I would be contacting the Board member that represents my area, and going to the next meeting in July to tell them all of this is unacceptable. Bringing back winter would be a good start but that will not fully resolve the real problem at the school.

    1. The administration knew at least by end of May if not earlier. What I think is disgusting is that they still have yet to make an offical statement or announcement regarding this matter to any staff, faculty or the main student population. The other problem is that if the students were given a fee waiver or received financial aid they will most likely have to pay it back as the semester paid doesn’t exist. What a cluster F! Bell AND Rocha need to go for this!!

  4. Had PCC admin. not violated Shared Governance, this ongoing mess would not be happening. Board of Trustees–are you aware of what’s happened to this college?

  5. Thank you Courier staff for all your great work!

    One bit of advice: Please file CPRA requests for all communications between the PCC administration and the Chancellor’s Office. At this point, we can’t even be sure that there was a “miscommunication” without proper documentation.

    1. They had to know even before the semester began. I think it was too late to do anything about it and they tried to appeal using all their charm to the chancellor’s office to no avail.

  6. To quote from another article in the Courier from March: (https://www.pcccourier.com/2013/03/27/president-wants-college-to-move-forward/#comment-2076)

    “Not one single student got up [at the Board meeting] and said ‘I can’t transfer,’” Rocha said.”

    -Um, excuse me, but because students didn’t attend a board meeting or they didn’t want to speak, he claims there was no problem?

    “Additionally, he said, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Bell handled all cases of transfer problems that were brought in for help, and that students with transfer issues should have come to Bell for help, but only a few students have done so.”

    –Really? Where did the 41 and counting students come from? Or were they part of the supposed students that got help and were duped into believing that their classes would transfer this year?

    “Since the Board of Trustees cancelled Winter Intersession last year, students have been citing their difficulties in transferring and have been blaming President Rocha and the Board of Trustees. But Rocha said that the public perception of him is due to lack of understanding of administrative processes”.

    –The only ones that do not understand administrative processes are the administration, including Bob Bell, Mark Rocha and the Board of Trustees.

    I’m real glad the Bell team has a ‘game plan’, but I for one have NO CONFIDENCE in the administration, nor in the board of trustees since they have sat by and let these administrators carry on wreaking havoc on PCC and our students. If they stopped thinking about “moving forward” and being in constant damage control mode, and started considering with careful hindsight the consequences of their actions (starting from hiring Rocha to begin with), we may not be in this mess.

    “Working for the best interests of the students”, Mr. Bell? Really?!?! Sounds to me the school desperately wanted the money from the state (all in the name of pushing “access”, the administration’s latest sound-byte — before it was ‘student success’) on the backs of students that need courses to transfer this year. PCC has $19 million in reserves – the Chancellor’s Office only recommends around $6 million. PCC is under no circumstances in dire shape financially.

    What’s next? PCC attorney Ms. Cooper, sitting in her cushy office while she and Rocha are named in a lawsuit involving sexual harassment and retaliation, gets promoted to VP?

    1. I don’t understand why you say PCC is in great financial shape, when the financial health of California is questionable, to put it mildly (I assume that money for PCC’s operating budget comes manly from taxpayers). According to this Fox video, new accounting rules will soon go into effect that will make it harder for cities to lie about their unfunded pensions, and more cities may find themselves filing for bankruptcy. Perhaps you believe that this is totally off-topic. I don’t.

      https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/california-on-the-brink-pension-crisis-about-to-get-worse

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