Craig Follins, new special projects administrator, on administrative leave
By Kyle R. Cotton
During executive session, the board of trustees came to an agreement with Craig Follins, former Northeast Lakeview College President, and unamiously passed the agreement when they reconvened in open session, without announcing the nature of the agreement.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie justified silence on the agreement because it was a personnel matter, but said Follins will remain as special projects administrator, a position that did not exist until Follins was removed as president Oct. 29.
Faculty of Northeast Lakeview were informed via memo Nov. 2.
On Sept. 1, Follins — who became president in March 2014 — had his contract extended to Aug. 31, 2017,
During his tenure as president of Northeast Lakeview, the college earned its first accreditation visit after a decade of working toward accreditation.
In the notice of termination memorandum the chancellor issued to Follins on Oct. 29, Leslie said Follins was terminated with cause. District administrators said they could not disclose the cause for Follin’s removal calling it a personnel matter.
“You have again violated expectations set for you and engaged in a pattern of unacceptable behavior,” Leslie wrote in the memorandum.
Follins was reassigned as special projects administrator and will keep his salary of $205,387.03 to “analyze and provide recommendations on the market opportunities for distance learning.”
District officials would not explain why Follins was reassigned after he was terminated for cause.
The Ranger exercised Texas’ Public Information Act Nov. 18 by requesting documents of the Alamo Colleges that show the specific cause of Follins’ removal.
On Dec. 10, after the Alamo Colleges asked for clarification and 15 business days had passed, the district submitted the Ranger’s request to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for opinion.
They cited exemptions they believe apply in this specific situation — one being the files are confidential by law, and two, disclosure of information in a personnel file would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said while she couldn’t say with all certainty whether the board violated the public meeting act, the public expects information from government entities.
“If it’s a public college, we the public want to know as much as we can about who’s running it and why; or who has been ousted and why; so that is certainly information that the public wants to know and basically needs to know,” Shannon said. “The governance of a public college is public business.”
According to the district’s letter to Paxton, Follins disputes the cause of his removal, and both Follins and district officials say the requested documents contain highly intimate or embarrassing information about Follins that could potentially jeopardize future employment and are of no interest to the public.
Shannon said Paxton has 45 business days to rule on The Ranger’s request.
Follins will remain on administrative leave until conversations between representatives of the district and Follins determine reasonable options for Follins future employment at the Alamo Colleges.