- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha has called on the board chairman of a community college in Omaha to resign.

Metro Community College could lose eligibility for millions of federal dollars if Fred Conley stays on the panel, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2a1pCL6 ) reported.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development banned Conley from participating in federal contracts for three years because he failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest while serving on the Omaha Housing Authority board.

The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office told the community college last month that the school must remove any leader who is prohibited from participating in federal contracts in order to maintain its eligibility to receive federal student aid program funds.

For the 2014-2015 academic year, the community college received $32.7 million in Title IV education funds, the main source of federal student aid, an Education Department spokesman said.

Conley must resign voluntarily as neither the community college, nor its board, has the authority to remove an elected official from office. Metro has to respond to the Education Department by Aug. 8.

Chambers said he believes Conley will “do the right thing” and resign.

“Nobody should feel he or she should be so arrogant, so self-centered, and so ridiculous as to feel that an institution of learning should be sacrificed to his or her ego,” Chambers said. “Being in a position to ruin or shut down something like the community college may make a person feel very important, very big.”

Conley has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s action. Conley’s suit says he had no conflict of interest in using a cubicle and an email address at the domain of the Davis Companies, which did business with the Housing Authority.

Conley didn’t return the newspaper’s calls seeking comment Tuesday or Wednesday.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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