Luna Community College will remain on probation after a review by the Higher Learning Commission found it out of compliance with two of 21 components required for accreditation.

Luna spokesman Dave Kavanaugh said the commission found the college in Las Vegas, N.M., does not operate with integrity in its financial, academic and personnel functions, and doesn’t have a resource base to support, maintain and strengthen educational programs.

The Higher Learning Commission visited the college in March and will return by June. Kavanaugh said Luna has until May 7 to provide evidence the commission’s findings have been addressed.

“Make no mistake about it, accreditation remains important to us. It is a formal recognition of the quality of instruction and service to students and the communities at large,” Rolando Rael, who has been Luna Community College’s president since February, said in a news release. “We will continue to work to attain the formal validation that accreditation provides. We must remain proactive about improving the college in every facet of our operation.”

Kavanaugh said the college learned Thursday of its extended probation and can continue to grant certificates and associate degrees.

Rael was not available for comment Friday.

The Higher Learning Commission will deliberate Luna’s probationary status again in November 2020. The college was placed on probation in the summer of 2018 after the commission considered stripping its accreditation, which could have led to the loss of federal tuition assistance and the ability to transfer credits to other colleges or universities.

A 2016 audit by the New Mexico Higher Education Department found nepotism and favoritism in hiring, nearly a quarter-million dollars worth of missing equipment, board meetings full of “rancor, dissension and unprofessional behavior” and a top official falsifying his résumé to get a job.

Luna, which serves around 1,150 students and has satellite centers in Santa Rosa, Springer and Mora, mostly draws students from Colfax, Guadalupe, Mora and San Miguel counties east of Santa Fe.

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