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Our Thoughts: System right to take swift action at GPTC
Our Thoughts - OPINON

Kudos to Commissioner Matt Arthur of the Technical College System of Georgia for taking swift action in cleaning house at Georgia Piedmont Technical College this week.

Arthur apparently was prompted to act by issues involving financial aid to students at the college. A spokesman for the state’s two-year system said Georgia Piedmont Tech was placed under federal government monitoring.

Mark D’Alessio, the spokesman, called it “a pretty serious thing to be put on,” usually reserved only for for-profit colleges. It’s rare for a public school to find itself where Georgia Piedmont is now.

That sounds alarm bells about the management under President Jabari Simama, who was placed on one month’s administrative leave. His last day of employment will be May 11.

Four other college employees were suspended, including Irvin Clark, a vice president and the dean of the Newton County Campus. (Clark declined to comment when contacted by The News on Thursday afternoon and Simama could not be reached for comment.)

Georgia Piedmont Tech should play a vital role in Newton County’s education offerings, and it also is one of our biggest assets in economic recruitment. The college should play a role in training our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow, but it can’t do that if its house is not in order.

We can’t say for certain if there are or are not problems related to the management of finances at GPTC, but it’s clear there are questions, and those deserve to be answered.

The vast majority of students at the college are on financial aid, and they don’t need to have a cloud hanging over that.

D’Alessio said there is no problem for those students related to their aid “at this point,” and we hope that will remain the case going forward. This is not a problem of their making.

Instead, we have hope there is a plan to fix this mess. Thankfully Arthur has placed what seems to be a competent administrator at the helm in the interim.

Ivan H. Allen, the president of Central Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins, is by all accounts highly respected. He’s grown the adult education program and helped the school be a catalyst for economic development in its service area.

Allen also is a trustee of the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The association is the accrediting agency for degree-awarding institutions in 11 Southeastern states. That alone will give him inside knowledge in how to get Georgia Piedmont Tech back on track.

We hope to see Dr. Allen in town - like, a lot - over the coming months as Georgia Piedmont Tech gets back on track. This college is too important to our county, and we anticipate its renewal.

Our Thoughts is the opinion of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht.