Mr. Munroe said the college’s official reply to the commission was submitted Thursday evening, one day before it was due and immediately after the board voted unanimously to approve it. The commission will send monitors to the school in October.
But even the college’s early response to the commission’s warnings caused controversy. The response was lacking, said the clergy members, because the school had yet to name a chief financial officer to help address concerns about its financial controls and governance.
“Why are we going to Middle States with an incomplete report? We don’t even have a C.F.O. How can you operate a corporation without a C.F.O.? That is ridiculous. That is absurd. That is ludicrous,” the Rev. Lanel D. Guyton, pastor of Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church in Orange, N.J., told the board of trustees.
Critics have blamed Joyce Harley, the school’s vice president of administration and finance, for much of the turbulence, saying that she is doing the bidding of Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County executive.
Ms. Harley formerly worked as Essex County administrator, appointed by Mr. DiVincenzo, who also backed her, unsuccessfully, to become president of the college. Although the college is supposed to be independent, Mr. DiVincenzo appoints many of the board members.
“Your allegiance is not to this community, not to the people we serve, but to a political boss,” Bishop Jethro C. James, Jr., senior pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark, told the board.
The college has had three presidents since the resignation of the highly regarded and longtime former president A. Zachary Yamba in 2010. Mr. Yamba’s supporters say the college owes him money from the months after he came out of retirement to try, unsuccessfully, to stem chaos at the institution where the main campus building is named in his honor.
There are also several lawsuits from employees claiming wrongful termination and whistle-blower protection, some of which name Ms. Harley as a defendant.
“What you have here is a cancer in your organization and you have to do something about it or it will take over your entire body,” said the Rev. H. William Rutherford, III, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Orange.
Critics say it was Ms. Harley who scuttled the most recent attempt by Mr. Munroe to hire a chief financial officer, a charge she does not deny.