Two-year colleges chancellor Bradley Byrne said an internal investigation has begun following the indictment of former Alabama Fire College President William Langston and will focus on the hiring of the director’s children.
Byrne, speaking after the state school board’s work session, said most of the 37-page indictment involves the fire college, which while located on the campus of Shelton State Community College, is not part of the two-year system.
“Mr. Langston did not work for us, so his particular situation is not something we’d be looking at unless there’s some interrelationship between that and one of our colleges,” Byrne said, adding that he wants to make sure the board’s hiring policies were followed.
“There are certain things in the indictment that mention one or more of Mr. Langston’s children working at or for one of our colleges,” he said.
Langston, 65, was arrested last week and released on $10,000 bond. The indictment returned by a federal grand jury accused him of fraud, conspiracy and theft. Langston issued a statement through his attorney denying allegations that he illegally diverted $1.5 million from the school and its foundation to benefit himself, his family and friends.
Byrne, who was hired May 24, said he will make his recommendation about the leadership at Shelton and Bishop State community colleges at the board’s June 28 meeting and said restructuring plans are already in motion after his first three weeks on the job.
Board members are expected to approve a resolution to prohibit passthrough appropriations at its next meeting, when it could also take action on Byrne’s recommendation on whether Bishop State president Rep. Yvonne Kennedy and Shelton State president Rick Rogers should keep their posts.
A fraud investigation at Bishop State has resulted in 27 arrests of students and employees, including the school’s financial aid director and softball, baseball and basketball coaches. Kennedy has said corrective actions were taken to address the problems in the financial aid department.
Former interim two-year chancellor Thomas Corts placed Rogers on paid administrative leave in November during an ongoing investigation of allegations that Rogers received money from a fraud scheme.
School board member Stephanie Bell of Montgomery asked Byrne to discuss his recommendations with the board before the meeting so members would have some time to weigh the decision.
But other board members opposed that idea, saying it would not be fair for Kennedy or Rogers to hear about their fate before it was officially brought to the board at the meeting.
Board members discussed a wide-range of issues in the lengthy work session, including having their meetings videotaped and posted online to increase transparency with the public, creating a deputy-chancellor position and whether to continue using adult education software involved in a controversial purchase.
They will also make a decision in the coming months about moving to a larger building which will provide much-needed space, but also carries a burdensome $500,000 annual cost, which they might not be able to afford, Byrne said.
Byrne said the past few weeks have been a whirlwind as he’s worked with staff to fill vacancies, met with college presidents, and spoke with law officials handling the corruption investigation into the system.
“The first few weeks have been a lot of work, a lot of positive feedback from people,” he said. “Some hard decisions, but so far so good.”
– Associated Press
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