Judge: NWACC Student’s Blog Illegally Defames School’s Provost

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A NorthWest Arkansas Community College administrator won his defamation lawsuit Thursday against a former respirator therapy student who leveled accusations against the administrator on her blog and in emails to local media, said Benton County Circuit Court Judge John Scott.

Scott said he found in favor of Steven Gates in a defamation lawsuit filed in Circuit Court last year. He also ordered Francesca Cataldo to remove statements she made about Gates on her web blog, which calls Gates a “bully” and accuses nursing program officials creating unrealistic academic expectations for students.

Gates is the school’s senior vice president for learning and provost.

The blog also alleges other administrators ignored the students’ complaints. In the blog “Corruption At NorthWest Arkansas Community College,” the author alleges nursing instructors failed most of a class, before fabricating grades to make it look like most passed. The most recent entry, made Monday, is titled, “NWACC is a Corporate Serial Bullying Culture.” A drawing depicting a skeleton removing a Hitler mask from its face accompanies the entry.

A letter from “Concerned NWACC Nursing Class of 2014” was emailed Jan. 7 to Gates, school President Evelyn Jorgenson, other school officials and the news media. The letter states, “We are writing to tell you of the many wrong-doings perpetrated on the students that are occurring within the nursing program.”

The letter goes on to state that two instructors “have singled out various (sic) students to bully, harass and sabotage their efforts to learn and to make progress within this program.”

The email also alleges that instructors in the nursing program rarely teach, but rather host “four-hour lecture classes”.

Jorgenson later stated she and her staff would look into the complaints, and a school spokesman said NWACC could not properly respond to the complaints while the complaining students remained anonymous.

The judge said Cataldo admitted to defaming Gates on her blog, leading to his ruling in the administrator’s favor.

Gates’ lawsuit states he does not want any money out of the legal action, instead saying he just wants the references defaming him to be taken off of the blog, Scott said.


  • Elamax

    Sounds like these nursing students can’t handle the rigorous academics and have colluded to undermine the school to cover their lack of intellect. We don’t need these people in the nursing profession. Would you want them taking care of you or your family? I think not.

  • John Whittington

    1st amendment not withstanding; we are left with the axiom of where there is smoke some fire must be there somewhere. So I believe that some of what the student said is factual and some is not so much. I have taken a few classes over the years since I matriculated, and have found some educators (the new word for teacher) act like they are stars and their ego is what you are mostly aware of in their classes and some are very good and strive to impart the information you will need after the class is memory. So 50% true.– 50% false. That’s Life!

  • Bubba

    The letter these students sent to the administrators and media is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. How is anyone supposed to believe that these students are being bullied and unfairly targeted academically when they can’t even adequately proofread a letter stating their grievances?

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