Time to force some more transparency at Kings Point (Updated)

Since the Academy refuses to update its stakeholders on the status of its efforts to avoid losing accreditation (today marks 270 days since the last update), I’ve just submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for whatever response the Academy sent to MSCHE.  (The response that was due on March 1, 2017.)  Here’s a copy of the request.

A source has told me that Superintendent Helis did submit some sort of response; but, according to the source, that response is closely held by the administration.  No telling whether it was a request for an extension of time or an actual substantive response.  But with this lastest FOIA request, hopefully we will find out.

BTW, the deadline for responding to the last FOIA request was Friday, March 24, 2017.  DOT missed the deadline. Needless to say, I’m following up.

UPDATE:  A source tells me that MARAD claims that it no longer “owns” the monitoring report submitted to MSCHE and that it cannot release the report until MSCHE releases its findings (likely in June 2018).  I happen to know, however, that MSCHE takes the position that while MSCHE will not release a monitoring report, MSCHE’s policies do not have any impact on an institution’s requirement to release a document that is subject to disclosure under a law or regulation such as the Freedom of Information Act.  So we’ll just have to wait and see how MARAD actually responds to the request.

All of this begs the real question — why wouldn’t the Academy want its stakeholders to know how it has responded to the Accreditation Warning?  Why won’t it voluntarily produce the document. Why hasn’t it posted it on the Academy’s website – you know, the “USMMA Reaccreditation Update” page? (The page that hasn’t been updated in 270 days as of today.)

Wouldn’t you think that the Academy would be proud of how well it responded to MSCHE’s concerns and want to share that with the public?  (I wish I had enough confidence in the Academy’s leadership so that such a musing could be considered realistic rather than fantastic.)

 

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5 Comments

  1. I also sent a FOIA request for this document last week and followed it up by opening an assistance case with my senator to get this document.

    I also think something is out of order with the Commandant of Midshipmen job announcement. The experience factor seems to be written in such a way that it seems to me they already have their person in mind (Stroud). And to the exclusion of alumni, how many have had a opportunity to “transition high school students” to college. That statement has nothing to do with skills, knowledge or abilities, it is a condition, not a standard. I filed an EEO complaint with MARAD.

  2. I agree with Parent Class of 2018. The Commandant job posting seems like another example of shady MARAD dealings.

    The Commandant is supposed to be a role model for midshipmen. In my mind that means someone they can aspire to be… Yet none of the alumni, graduates who both succeeded at sea with advanced licenses and are serving as senior officers in the Navy Reserve, qualified for the job. None seem to have been told what their shortcoming was…

    How is it that folks who best meet the Academys mission over a professional lifetime are never qualified to lead the Academy?

    Just another example of shady MARAD practices….

    • In my humble opinion, the job announcement was written specifically for CMDR Stroud who was recruited from SUNY Maritime. I thought it odd when I was qualified for the Commandant’s position when it was advertised in 2015; but was not when I applied for the Deputy CMDT position. I did not pursue it at that time; but did on this go round for the CMDT’s position. A word for word comparison of the three job announcements shows a major change in the “on experience” section which on the last two job announcements reads:

      Experience in military officer development, higher education student affairs administration, senior-level government or military administration, while providing leadership, supervision, safety and discipline to students transitioning from high school to college.

      If I am right, this is a violation of Merit Service Principle 1, Recruitment and Prohibited Personnel Practice 6 that reads:

      Give unauthorized preference or improper advantage – grant any preference or advantage by law, rule, or regulation to any employee or applicant for employment (including defining the scope or manner of competition or the requirements for any position) for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any person for employment.

      I would recommend alumni interested in pursuing this issue contact MARAD Human Resources and request reconsideration and a specific reason for disqualification resulting in non-referral. In my case it was:

      We performed a second review. For this position, the agency is looking for someone who had depth of experience with students who are transitioning from high school to college.

      I filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint with MARAD based on: “I think I have been discriminated against for either my sex, my age, or my disability. It is my perception that the job announcement was deliberately constructed to give unauthorized preference or improper advantage to someone thus denying me an opportunity to seek the position in fair and open compitition.”

      In my case I am a 61-year old Caucasian male military veteran who the VA assessed as being 20% disabled. So I used sex, age (over 40), and disability to make my challenge.

      I strongly recommend those who were similarly disqualified make a similar complaint and thru volume get the Secretary and the Inspector General to look into the dealings of MARAD, most organizations closely track EEO complaints because if founded they can cost significant sums of money out of their operational funds in settlements.

  3. The subterfuge exhibited by MARAD and the Academy leadership rivals an active measures campaign by a foreign intelligence service. What are they hiding? Clearly, their objective is not in the best interest of Kings Point. And, most disturbingly, they are practicing their deception in “plain sight” knowing full well that no one will hold them accountable. The lack of professional ethical behavior is breathtaking. Can you imagine behavior of this kind tolerated at any of the other federal academies? The leadership at USMA, USNA, USAFA and USCGA would not tolerate the dereliction of professional responsibilities on display at USMMA for the past nine months.

  4. Andy

    You should keep pushing as hard as you can. It seems improbable that the school needs to protect this information if it is showing progress. And if its not showing progress that really needs to set the agenda for all who really care about the future of USMMA. To have this cloud out there is crazy. Any University faced with the same set of situations would be jumping through hoops, changing individuals that may have contributed to the situation, and working on extensive documentation to support the improvements that are being achieved. I fear that the wheels of progress are turning too slowly. We all know how slow govt can be, but that can’t be an excuse. Sea Year has been partially resolved. Everyone needs to rally around this and now. I know i am preaching to the choir on this site but if there are congressional staffer reading this. Please, please demand accountability for the changes necessary to reverse the accreditation risk. What an embarrassment and blemish this would be if acccrediatation really became a threat to the very existence of the institution. I know many have different opinions on the best way to educate mariners. But this is not what anyone wants for Kings Point. We can’t let Administration transitions become an excuse for lack of action and accountability to fix issues. Not trying to stir the pot any more than it has been but the house is burning down and the fire deptartment is trying to decide if they have enough water to quell the blaze. Any other university heads would roll and dosen’t seem like that is the case.

    Patrick

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