State college system reviewing employees’ views on Gadsden State president
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Jun 07, 2013 | 3706 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama Community College System officials on Friday were deciding what action to take after recently completing an investigation of Gadsden State Community College, prompted by hundreds of employees there last month voting they had no confidence in school president Raymond Staats.

In an email to The Star, Dean Argo, communications director for the community college system, wrote that a team of representatives from the system visited Gadsden State Thursday last week and interviewed various employees there. Gadsden State has two campuses in Anniston.

"We're not sure at this point if we're going back," Argo wrote.

Argo said there was no timetable for the system’s chancellor, Mark Heinrich, to make a decision on how to respond to the situation.

"The chancellor wants to be thorough and have all the information available to him before determining whether any action on his part is in the best interest of Gadsden State Community College," Argo wrote.

Along with the primary investigation, Heinrich also will receive information from Gadsden State employees through a website that allows them to post confidential comments, Argo wrote. The website, www.alsecurequestionnaire.com, will continue to accept comments until midnight Friday.

Staats declined Friday to comment about the investigation, said Kay Smith-Foster, spokeswoman for Gadsden State.

"He didn't feel comfortable speaking on an investigation that was ongoing," Smith-Foster said.

The Alabama Education Association organized the vote at Gadsden State last month after receiving numerous complaints regarding Staats from members employed at the community college. Of the 350 Gadsden State employees who participated, 312, or 89 percent, voted they had no confidence in Staats' leadership. Gadsden State records show it has 777 full-time and part-time employees. AEA officials, whose organization has no position on the situation, have said the complaints focused on Staats approving presidential office space construction at certain campuses and efforts to hire a vice president, the salary for which some employees claim could be better spent elsewhere.

George Terrell, president of the Gadsden State Education Association, the local AEA chapter that represents employees at Gadsden State, said he and many other employees were interviewed by the investigation team.

"They interviewed a broad cross-section of people," Terrell said. "They just asked for specific incidents of things."

Terrell said that based on the response from the vote, he hopes the chancellor decides to hire a new president for Gadsden State.

"We trust he'll do the appropriate decision based on the evidence he has collected," Terrell said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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