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Com­mu­nity col­leges say on­line ed­u­ca­tors must live in Colorado or soon lose jobs.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ye­se­nia Robles

Colorado’s largest com­mu­nity col­lege sys­tem is putting sev­eral dozen on­line in­struc­tors on no­tice that they must live in Colorado or soon lose their jobs.

Colorado’s largest com­mu­nity col­lege sys­tem is putting sev­eral dozen on­line in­struc­tors on no­tice that they must live in Colorado or soon lose their jobs.

Of­fi­cials at the Colorado Com­mu­nity Col­lege Sys­tem say it has be­come in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive and com­pli­cated to em­ploy so many in­struc­tors who live out of state.

Rather than con­tin­u­ing to jug­gle var­i­ous education and la­bor laws that ap­ply to those in­struc­tors, the sys­tem this year is “phas­ing out” those with ad­dresses out­side of Colorado.

For new hires, the sys­tem will make it clear that em­ploy­ees need to live in the state, even if they don’t have to re­port phys­i­cally to work.

“As our on­line course de­liv­ery has grown, so has the num­ber of out-of-state em­ploy­ees,” said Christina Ce­cil, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources for the Colorado Com­mu­nity Col­lege Sys­tem. “Laws vary widely from state to state, and there are fed­eral reg­u­la­tions. We have to make sure we’re reg­is­tered in that state. With­out adding any ad­di­tional re­sources, it was not some­thing we could con­tinue.”

Some of the re­quire­ments are small — such as send­ing em­ploy­ees in New York an in­for­ma­tion sheet on wage theft pro­tec­tion ev­ery year — while oth­ers are more com­plex — like ad­just­ing work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion or time off to com­ply with laws of the em­ployee’s home state.

An ex­act count of em­ploy­ees af­fected at the 13-col­lege or­ga­ni­za­tion is not avail­able. But when dis­cus­sions about the change were hap­pen­ing in Au­gust, of­fi­cials es­ti­mated about 250 out-of-state em­ploy­ees sys­temwide.

The sys­tem has about 10,000 em­ploy­ees to­tal, not in­clud­ing stu­dent work­ers, and en­rolls more than 151,000 stu­dents.

“The thing that re­ally both­ers me is the stu­dents are not re­ally be­ing served,” said Michael Bleacher, an ad­junct in­struc­tor for on­line cour­ses in Colorado who re­cently moved to Florida and will be among those phased out. “They ad­ver­tise on­line education as the best in the world, but it’s pretty ar­ro­gant to think the best teach­ers in the world are only in your state.”

Most of the out-of-state in­struc­tors work di­rectly for the state sys­tem, but each com­mu­nity col­lege also em­ploys a smaller num­ber of on­line in­struc­tors.

Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Den­ver has two em­ploy­ees who live out of state and likely will be im­pacted soon. The Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Aurora has not had any out-of­s­tate em­ploy­ees re­cently but will pri­or­i­tize lo­cal can­di­dates mov­ing for­ward.

Univer­si­ties such as the Univer­sity of Colorado and Colorado State

Univer­sity were un­able to pro­vide an ex­act count of em­ploy­ees who live out­side Colorado, but both said the num­ber is low.

Those univer­si­ties typ­i­cally have fac­ulty mem­bers who teach in-per­son classes and teach on­line cour­ses.

At the Univer­sity of North­ern Colorado, reach­ing out to out-of-state em­ploy­ees is some­thing of a last re­sort, but the school did have the largest num­ber of out-of-state in­struc­tors this fall, with about 12 teach­ing nurs­ing or sign lan­guage.

Of­fi­cials say it is a chal­lenge but some­times nec­es­sary.

“It’s re­ally a niche mar­ket for some classes, and those fac­ulty are hard to find. We want to be able to of­fer qual­ity pro­grams with qual­ity fac­ulty,” said Jeanie York, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of UNC’s Ex­tended Cam­pus. “Our ad­junct per­cent­age is low, but it does al­low us to search out those highly cre­den­tialed fac­ulty.”

UNC of­fi­cials are in the process of join­ing a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Na­tional Coun­cil for State Au­tho­riza­tion Rec­i­proc­ity Agree­ments, that will help de­crease the pa­per­work for out-of-state em­ploy­ees.

But it’s not the main goal of the group. The group started as a way to help states nav­i­gate com­plex rules for en­rolling stu­dents from other states.

Ce­cil said for the com­mu­nity col­lege sys­tem, it wasn’t enough of a so­lu­tion, al­though many of the col­leges do part­ner with the na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“It is sim­pli­fy­ing the process for be­com­ing au­tho­rized by the state’s ed­u­ca­tional agency to do busi­ness in the state. How­ever, at this time, SARA does not cover all states,” Ce­cil said. “We are still re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that we are ap­pro­pri­ately ap­ply­ing and ad­her­ing to the em­ploy­ment laws of states where em­ploy­ees are phys­i­cally work­ing.”

For in­struc­tors such as Bleacher, it’s putting bu­reau­cracy ahead of education.

“It doesn’t make any sense at all,” he says.

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