Resigning educator Rhonda Barron of Bacone College has alleged a toxic work environment, neglect and indifference on the part of administration to a crumbling Bacone.
The allegations, made in a resignation letter sent yesterday, echo earlier reports of financial woes and unlivable conditions in the college’s buildings.
The letter says the college can’t get credit at local stores “because they know you don’t pay your bills.”
In addition, faculty and staff, she alleges, are forced to choose sides in ongoing power struggles.
Bacone has not returned calls and texts for comment.
The letter is reproduced below.
Without regret, I am submitting my letter of resignation. In the 22 years I have been an Educator, I have never experienced the lack of transparency I have experienced at Bacone College.
Since the day I walked into Bacone, I felt the protective need to safeguard all that Bacone stood for. The history behind Bacone and the Native Indian students that have come here since 1880. Since the day I walked into Bacone, I have also been immersed in a political power struggle that has affected students and staff alike. This fight was not mine. I was constantly being approached to side against the administration at that time (Ferlin Clark’s). From the very first day, it felt like an explosive place to work. Since the removal of Dr. Clark, it has only grown worse. (More details of current administration abuse will be sent to appropriate agencies.)
I can no longer stand by and see the injustice I have witnessed here. From the lack of resources to the mismanagement of students, finances, and staff. The deceit is deep. I am ashamed for not stepping up earlier and saying something sooner.
To the Board: You are responsible for making Bacone something to be proud of. I am embarrassed to tell people I work at Bacone. The buildings are rotting in front of our eyes, yet we still charge students to live in substandard buildings with mold. The library can’t get library software to actually check out books and half the collection has been left to decay in the basement of Samuel Richard’s Hall. Bacone can’t get credit at local stores because they know you don’t pay your bills.
You have the power to step up and see what is happening, yet I have never met any of you. You fail as a board of Directors. You have not invested in making Bacone a better place to work and attend as students. I frankly don’t understand what purpose you do serve. You hear what you want to hear, but you do not come and see what you would see.
As a Chickasaw Citizen and a proud Native American, I choose to stand up now and say something when I see something.
A detailed letter of the abuse going on at Bacone will be submitted to the Chickasaw Times and to the Chickasaw Nation immediately following the submission of this resignation letter.
UPDATE 9:31 a.m.: Bacone Interim President Nicky Michael said she is aware of the letter, but can’t comment on personnel matters. She did, however comment on some of the non-personnel allegations that were made in the letter.
“We’ve managed through all this in the short time I’ve been in office,” she said. “It’s not easy, and it’s been hard work, and we have a long way to go, but we’re doing it. We got the gym roof fixed, that was a big problem with the gym floor, because it had leaks. Once they rebuilt that floor a few years ago, the leaks still made it buckle. But we’re getting that fixed.”
Mold did turn out to be a problem, she said, but that is also being addressed.
“We tested all the buildings to see how they rated on the mold scale, one dorm, we had to close that so students wouldn’t be in that environment,” she said. “We are working on a campaign to build the Posey Dorms again. We’ve got pledges and incoming money from tribes, federal grants and private donations that have carried us through this semester.”
Facing the college’s problems head-on is a tough job, but she is confident the school is headed in the right direction.
“What I want to say is we’re really grateful to the donors and communities, and we’re turning this around and looking forward to a positive summer.”