Parsons appeals dismissal from NWACC

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 393 views 

Marty Parsons, the former chief financial officer for NorthWest Arkansas Community College, filed an appeal of termination on Aug. 9.

Parsons is requesting a hearing with NWACC's Board of Trustees as allowed in the college’s personnel policy. The appeal letter was filed by his attorney, Brandon Cate, of Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow of Springdale. Parson’s began his work at NWACC in October 2010 as chief fiscal officer, and was elevated to chief financial officer July 1, 2011.

The letter states that Dr. Becky Paneitz, president of the college, had conflicts of interest in Parsons’ termination because she did not have all the facts before deciding to fire him on August 1. The appeal letter states Parsons stands ready to pursue a lawsuit against NWACC for wrongful termination and defamation of character and will soon issue Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to his termination.

Steven Hinds, executive director of public relations for NWACC, declined to comment on the appeal, saying it was a sensitive personnel matter.

The letter indicates a July 25 meeting between Parsons and Paneitz with legal council represented for both parties.

A memo in Parsons’ personnel file dated the same day reveals eight separate issues for which Parsons was counseled, namely insubordination, failure to complete timely budgets and the usage of inappropriate language. The memo signed by Paneitz states Parsons had 30 days to make improvements or face possible termination.

However, on Aug. 1, the appeal letter says Paneitz met with Parsons and requested his termination based on two separate issues: a recent cash flow concern and a potential agreement with Cisco Communications, neither of which were cause for termination, according to Cates.

Parsons claims in the appeal he did not have adequate time to address the issues raised in the July 25 counseling session.

Cates declined to provide added comment beyond the nine-page letter of appeal.

Parsons has requested reinstatement to his position of senior vice president and chief fiscal officer retroactive to Aug. 1. He also wants his name cleared and all of the allegations of misconduct purged from his personnel file. In addition, Parsons is requesting compensation for his legal costs incurred with pursuing this appeal.

The community college’s personnel policy allows for appeal within 10 days of the termination. Parsons’ appeal was made on day nine.

In other news, NorthWest Arkansas Community College is facing a $1.6 million budget shortfall for the year ended June 30. There are more than adequate reserves to cover the shortfall, according to school officials.

A report from the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit showed the college had reserves of more than $8 million at the end of 2011.

The college also awaits word from the Internal Revenue Service on their appeal for late filing fees incurred for the quarter ending March 31. The proposed penalty the college appealed was $5,103.  Last year the college incurred late filing fees of $26,760, which were paid.

Parsons was asked to create standardized procedures and correct previous mistakes since joining the college more than a year ago.

“There’s been a lot of cleanup in a department that had little to no procedures,” Parsons told The City Wire in July.

While several board members were concerned by the multiple tax filing glitches, there was no mention of this situation in the appeal letter or the memorandum within Parsons personnel file.