Newly filed court documents shed light on Paine College financial situation

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
News 12 @ 6 O'clock / NBC 26 at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The sound of the Paine College bell at noon is a reassuring reminder: the school is still accredited and the doors are still open.

But behind closed doors, the legal battle to keep Paine College accredited has dragged on for more than a year. Paine College is fighting to keep their accreditation and be free of any financial sanctions.

SASCOC is fighting to uphold its decision to revoke Paine's membership, simultaneously taking away their accreditation. They even want Paine College to pay the bill for a nearly two-year-long legal fight.

Paine College claims the SASCOC "violated their due process rights" and "violated their own rules" excluding from evidence Paine's completed June 30, 2016 audit. The college also claims SACSCOC incorrectly told them a brief was due on August 8, 2016. SACSCOC claims Paine College's allegation is "factually misleading and, at most, broad-based complaints about SACSCOC's interpretation of its own rules."

We found newly filed witness testimony from November 2017 recording the SACS director of institutional finance Donna Barrett under oath about Paine financial status in 2016.

In this deposition, Director Barrett, under oath, says Paine College "shifted" "scholarship expenses" in 2016.

Because the school said in years prior "they hadn't been properly allocated."

Barrett goes on to say moving the money "damages the students they're trying to help by providing fewer scholarship funds in the future."
Barrett also alleges Paine College's $2.4 million increase in total net assets didn't show a trend of increases.

In the deposition, she said "it's a single year. A single year doesn't create a trend. A trend requires multiple years of data."

Paine has had this issue since 2012 when they were given a warning from SACS and then put on probation in 2014.

From 2012 to 2017 number of full-time students went from 894 to 370 according to court documents. Paine College says those numbers are proof of the damages they've sustained since SACS revoked their membership.