BARSTOW — An investigation into allegations of impropriety at Barstow Community College has begun, Superintendent/President Dr. Debbie DiThomas and Board of Trustees President Phil Harris told the Desert Dispatch.
The Board of Trustees, working with the college's attorneys, have hired attorney Maria Aarvig of Creason & Aarvig LLP to conduct the investigation, Harris said Tuesday.
"The board met in closed session with an investigator at the last board meeting and the allegations were given to the investigator and then it's hands off," DiThomas said. "All I asked is that we do this as quickly as we can. I have an impeccable reputation."
DiThomas initially called for a "full investigation" at the Dec. 14 Board of Trustees meeting after a terminated data analyst, Susan Rollinson, accused college employees and managers of illegal and potentially fraudulent acts.
Speaking during public comment, Rollinson said she was fired after trying to report fraudulent data reporting by the college. She claimed she reported to DiThomas and others that the college was submitting data fraudulently to the chancellor's office.
"People can say whatever they want to say and there's no accountability," DiThomas told the Desert Dispatch. "Some of the allegations are about data. We're spending $600,000 over the last two years to clean up data."
Harris said the board asked its attorneys, the Los Angeles firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, to hire an independent investigator. It recommended Aarvig, who according to her firm's website has focused on pre-litigation investigation, among other things. Her clients have included school districts.
"We just want it to be transparent and make sure it's fair to all parties," Harris told the Desert Dispatch. "That's why we took over the investigation."
Harris said it the length and cost of investigation are unknown.
"Investigations, you don't have a price and you don't know how long they'll take," he said. "There's a lot of allegations, so they've got to get with the people making the allegations" as well as those accused.
DiThomas is leaving her position at the end of the school year.
"We're hoping it's completed before then," Harris said of the investigation. "We've told the attorneys that."
Steve Hunt can be reached at 760-951-6270 or SHunt@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevehunteditor.