MCCCD policies ignored by Glasper, staff

It would appear, based on a review of documents related to the security breach of the Maricopa County Community Colleges computer system, that standard procedures, approved by the Board, are implemented by staff on a case by case basis.

Documents show that the employee grievance procedures are sometimes ignored if they do not benefit administration or management.

While the furor continues around the MCCCD security breach, the administration with the tacit approval of the Board, has engaged in a campaign to shift responsibility to the very employees that had warned them of the risks as early as 2011.

The District has a grievance procedure, which is very clear and appears to be intended to protect all parties involved, while ensuring that a grievance is handled in a timely and professional manner. Although the grievance policy provides for a timely resolution, employees and community members say that the policy seems to be often ignored by the current chancellor, vice-chancellors and presidents of the colleges.

Instead, two MCCCD employee groups allege that the failure to act upon the grievance filed by concerned employees in 2012 is costing the District millions of dollars.

To date, the District has paid over $14 million in legal and consultants fees related to the breach. To make matters worse, all of the expenses could have been avoided if the District’s chancellor, Dr. Rufus Glasper, had taken action on the information that was provided to him early on, according to employees.

While employees say District officials are retaliating against them, the District appears to be trying to silence those same employees.

Trust breached after security breach

In 2008, the District experienced a very minor breach that appears to have affected only 200 individuals. The scope of this breach might have been underplayed again based on information obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent (See The Maricopa Community Colleges Discover and Eliminate Unintended Data Access Point.

In January of 2011, main Maricopa web servers were compromised as well as the security monitoring system (OVIS).

The director of the team responsible for the web servers and enterprise security, Rod Marten, had been instructed to decommission and rebuild the servers. The compromised servers were never replaced.

In November of 2011, the Oversight Report prepared by Earl Monsour was delivered to Vice-Chancellor George Kahjkejian. The report clearly states that there were high risks to two areas dealing with security:

1. The Maricopa web servers compromised in 2011 have not been fixed.

2 . The OVIS Tools to monitor the network and the servers in Maricopa
were still not operational.

These two items were the responsibility of Marten, who reported directly to Kahjkejian.

By Sept 2012, Kahjkejian had stil not replied to the IT Oversight Report.

In April of 2012, Monsour continued his efforts to complete the repairs identified after the 2011 security incident. He continually contacted Marten about implementing the fixes required to the system. As of April 2012, most of problems had been identified and appropriate repairs were yet to be implemented.

In May of 2012, the top MCCCD Database Manager and longtime Maricopa employee nearing retirement resigned claiming a hostile work environment, discrimination and scapegoating by Kahjkejian. It was alleged that Kahjkejian was not even listening to staff recommendations and engaged in overall mismanagement. One former staff member, who is sympathetic toward Kahjkejian, says that Kahjkejian tried to get a handle on the situation, but he was simply incapable of handling what had devolved into a chaotic and openly hostile workplace.

In the letter of resignation, the top Database Manager, wrote to Glasper – Chancellor, Governing Board members, the District’s attorney Lee Combs, and James Bowers, the head of the Human Resources department:

“…limited understanding of basic good technical practices is costing Maricopa Community Colleges millions.

I have witnessed scapegoating of subordinates as a means of avoiding responsibility for failed projects and an abject failure to respond appropriately to forewarnings by technical experts of impending disaster on projects.

I strongly urged you [Chancellor] to consider an external investigation of ITS”

According to documents officially obtained via record requests by MCCCD employees, Ms. Teresa Toney, Manager of the Office of Public Stewardship and MCCCD ombuds person, asked Chancellor Rufus Glasper to conduct an external investigation in May of 2012 to which he responded, “Thanks.”

No investigation into the matters ever took place, according to MCCCD employees. The top Database Manager was never contacted, and her concerns were discarded as ‘this is just another disgruntled employee.’

In August 2012, Linda Brown, a community advocate, addressed the MCCCD Board to alert them as to the mismanagement, misuse of funds and other problems in IT. Brown called for an independent investigation of IT.

No known action has taken place to date.

In October 2012, after having exhausted all established internal processes, several concerned ITS employees filed a formal grievance with MCCCD. The purpose of this grievance was to bring matters of mismanagement, misuse of bond funds, unethical behavior, and the security risks listed above to the attention of the Chancellor. The grievance was sent to Glasper on October 23rd, 2012, by the MAT and PSA Executive Presidents (Management and Staff groups) and signed by 6 ITS employees.

In their grievance the employees reiterated the issues from the ITS Oversight Report, and noted:

1. The Maricopa web servers compromised in 2011 have not been fixed.

2 . The OVIS Tools to monitor the network and the servers in Maricopa were still not operational.

Several requests for action from employee representatives on this grievance followed. No action has ever been taken.

The District is now drained of institutional knowledge with the loss of over 50 employees. Millions of dollars will be spent on consultants.

At the February 24, 2014 Board meeting, Rosie Lopez, a community college advocate, demanded that Glasper be fired. Lopez expressed concern about the continuing damage to MCCCD’s reputation.

Lopez was especially outraged that while the District has spent at least $14 million for lawyers and consultants, the Board is considering raising tuition to pay the mounting bills. According to sources, a few members of the Board are outraged at the chancellor and some of the decisions being made while one or two members are resisting any action.

Questions remain

Others are asking what is really behind the District’s refusal to resolve the various issues at play. We know that the taxpayers are ultimately stuck with the tab, but we don’t know who benefits if the District is forced into some sort of reorganization, and who benefits in the end.

Who benefits whether MCCCD wins or losses?
What 3rd party would be interested in creating as much chaos as possible?
Who loses if MCCCD continues down the current path?
Who is ultimately responsible for what happens at MCCCD?

We will attempt to answer these and many other questions in series of articles that will be published over the next few weeks.

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