State audit cites GCC for lack of evacuation plan for disabled students

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/24/2018 8:12:11 PM

GREENFIELD — A state audit looking into Greenfield Community College’s compliance with requirements for ensuring equal opportunity for students with disabilities found the college did not have a formally written emergency evacuation plan those students. 

However, by the time the report was published Wednesday, the college had already remedied this issue. 

The audit states college officials had “overlooked” the requirement to have the written plan, which didn’t “surprise” Anna Berry, dean of students, student and academic affairs at GCC, said. 

“It’s something we were aware needed to be codified and put into writing,” Berry said. “We were already working on it when the auditors started the audit.” 

The audit, reported by the office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump, looked at the college from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

There were three main objectives of the audit, which included looking at an emergency evacuation plan, ensuring user-friendly access to supplemental learning and asking whether the college regularly examines its own policies with regards to students with disabilities. 

Berry said the reason the issue came up about the evacuation plan was in part because of the small nature of the school. 

Since the college administration typically knows the students with disabilities and can account for them, this relationship partially caused GCC officials to overlook having a written policy to address their needs. 

“That’s important and it should have been done a long time ago,” Berry said. “But here we are and now it’s done and that feels good.” 

Among the handful of colleges the state has already released audits on about this, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Dartmouth along with Berkshire Community College and Springfield Technical Community College, GCC was the only one to have this issue crop up. 

The director of communication for the auditor’s office, Mike Wessler said, “however, it is worth noting that the school took quick action to address this issue after our audit staff identified it.” 

Berry said she appreciated the opportunity to reflect and assess what the college does for its students. 

“We very much take the position it’s always very helpful for us to have folks from the outside take a look at what we’re doing so we can always continue on improving what we’re doing,” Berry said. “I don’t look at doing an audit or assessment of what we’re doing as a negative thing, but as an opportunity for growth. We ask our students to do that all the time, so we should be doing the same thing.”

 

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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