The state school board voted Thursday to accept the retirement of Bishop State Community College President Yvonne Kennedy and Shelton State President Rick Rogers, despite calls for their firing over financial scandals on their campuses.
Under the vote, Kennedy’s retirement will be effective July 31 and Rogers’ will be effective Sept. 30.
Some school board members said they were concerned about sending the wrong message by not terminating the presidents. Rogers will receive a greater retirement pension by remaining through September.
“I do think that this sets a poor precedent,” board member Stephanie Bell of Montgomery said.
System Chancellor Bradley Bryne said he understood those concerns but felt accepting the retirment plans was in the best interest of the system.
Kennedy, a Democratic state representative from Mobile, has served as president of Bishop State Community College in Mobile since 1981. Rogers, who was placed on administrative leave in November, has been president at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa since 2000.
Byrne, hired to overhaul the two-year program a month ago, has been reviewing records from both colleges, where system officials have been conducting internal investigations.
Former Southern Union Community College President Joanne Jordan was named acting president of Shelton State in Rogers’ absence. Byrne said earlier this week that she will continue in that capacity if Rogers is dismissed and he will name a replacement for Kennedy if she is relieved of her duties.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced earlier this month that it was extending Bishop State’s probation status for another six months. The school was first sanctioned in December and faces losing its accreditation, which would mean students could not receive federal financial aid.
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 arranged the system’s investigation at Shelton State last fall and placed Rogers on paid leave while they probed allegations that Rogers received money from a fraud scheme.
Those allegations surfaced after Robert Nix, former Alabama Fire College board member, agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of money laundering, wire fraud and theft from a government agency.
The Fire College is based at Shelton State. Nix said in his plea agreement that the school’s president received $11,000 worth of furniture for his home and $14,000 to pay a personal cell phone bill from money Nix doled out from the Alabama Fire College Foundation.
Rogers has said the Fire College’s foundation did provide a cell phone package, but he did not know about the furniture purchases.
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