SCCCD Interim Chancellor sends strongly-worded memo to FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson

"People should not put out inaccurate information about our colleges"
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Saying it was inaccurate and unfortunate, the leader of the State Center Community College District is calling out Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson for some of the words he used at a recent luncheon.

"Our graduates, 75% of our kids who are black and brown, frequently will enter a community college system here locally that's underperforming both in their training programs and their academic programs. It's supposed to be a two year program but they are measured on a six year graduation rate. In the six year graduation rate, for a two year program for black and brown kids it's under 20%. Think about the misalignment in Fresno. Three quarters of the youth I serve as superintendent that our board is working so hard to support move into a place that has very abysmal results for their completing or transferring to Fresno State or UC Merced," said Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson during the 2015 state of education luncheon on Monday.

Tuesday, State Center Community College District Interim Chancellor Dr. Bill Stewart sent a memo to Hanson titled "SCCCD Completion Rates," in which he says Hanson was wrong.

"People should not put out inaccurate information about our colleges, our faculty and our staff and our board and the rest of us, we work very hard to try to improve our programs and to move people through this system," said Stewart. "If people want to say something about it, what they say ought to be accurate."

Stewart offered Hanson data from the California Community Colleges Scorecard, showing completion rates among Hispanics and African Americans at local community colleges like Fresno City College to be much higher and on par with state completion rates.

He also references the high number of Fresno Unified students that are unprepared for their colleges.

"The gap (in statistics) is in that our reference was a national report," said Fresno Unified Associate Superintendent for Equity and Access Jorge Aguilar.

Aguilar says the school district and the college district have had and expect to continue a strong working relationship, and doesn't see this data discrepancy changing that.

"We want to make sure that where the data stands today in terms of the Fresno Unified students that successfully complete courses of study at the State Center Community College District continue to increase and we know in order for those increases to occur we're going to continue to work together collaboratively and we're going to have to continue our joint commitment to look at data very closely," Aguilar said.

"The comments were in reference to the increasing need for Fresno Unified and State Center Community College District to collaborate more deeply in ensuring students enter and exit higher education more successfully," said Hanson, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Hanson says he doesn't plan on stepping down, following the results of an exclusive action news poll conducted by Survey USA. The survey showed that of those following news about the superintendent, 70% believe he should take a leave of absence during the federal investigation into questionable construction deals and the use of bond measure money by the district.
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