Attorney General rules in favor of open records request

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Follins

District unwilling to release documents until a decision is made on a lawsuit.

By Kyle R. Cotton

kcotton11@student.alamo.edu

After a three-month wait, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has ruled in favor of The Ranger to release documents explaining why Dr. Craig Follins was removed from his position as Northeast Lakeview president.

The ruling arrived via mail Tuesday at district offices.

The district declined to provide those documents Dec. 10, citing two exceptions as cause to withhold the documents in a request to the attorney general.

The first exception states the files are confidential by common-law privacy, as disclosing documents in a personnel file constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

The second states the documents contain potentially embarrassing information that is of no interest to the public.

Despite the ruling, the district still will not release the records, claiming it has 30 days to decide to file suit against the office of the Texas attorney general.

If the district does not file suit within those 30 days, they must comply with the decision.

Associate general counsel Roxella Cavazos said she did not know if the district would file suit, but she would inform The Ranger as soon as a decision was made by the administration.

In response to The Ranger’s November request under the Public Information Act to find out why Follins was removed from his position, the Alamo Colleges took the entire 10 days the law allows before responding or asking for a decision.

Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said she was happy with the attorney general’s decision

“The public has the right to know about the management of a taxpayer-funded institution and the cause for a leader’s removal,” Shannon said. “I would encourage the district not to file suit and release the documents.”

Follins would not comment on any of the questions posed to him regarding his removal or his new position as special projects administrator, for which he is being paid the same $205,387.03 he was paid as president of NLC.

As special projects administrator, Follins offices with Chancellor Bruce Leslie and analyzes and provides recommendations on market opportunities for distance learning, according to the memorandum Leslie sent Follins Oct. 29.

Follins was put on administrative leave after his removal until he finished discussions with district human resources and legal officials, allowing his employment to go forward.

When asked if he plans to stay on in that position, Follins said he would not give a direct answer and simply said wherever he goes, his main focus is on student success.

Follins’ answer to every question posed was, “I’m in a position where I’m looking to add value to other colleges. I’ve got a family to support, I’ve got children, and I want to redirect this to how it impacts me and what I do in the future.”

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6 Comments

  1. Tallahasse Tim on

    Gotcha, Dr. Follins! Caught red-handed with your hand in the cookie jar. I hope they were worth it.

  2. He better hope he gets a new job soon because when the public finds out how horrible a manager he was; how incapable he was as a visionary and how he abused people at Northeast Lakeview College he will be lucky to greet people at a Walmart!

    Good riddance

  3. Tallahassee Tim on

    This guy’s hand was so deep in the cookie jar he’s got chocolate chips on his shoulder blade.

  4. Follins is interviewing at Fresno City College. According to the student newspaper:
    “Follins has served as president of Northeast Lakeview College, and his contract as president of Olive-Harvey College in Chicago was recently voided. Follins claims that differences in the way he managed resulted in the fallout. The college had three attempts at accreditation and failed. He also said that change is hard and that he will not apologize for putting students first.”
    Follins didn’t mention the fight over his personnel file, which contains documents with “highly intimate or embarrassing information about Follins”.
    I have some guesses about what possible bad behaviors Follins engaged in (I have a vivid imagination). Perhaps we should set up a betting pool? Or speculate here in the comments?

  5. the top end at alamo colleges gets extremely overpaid …How about passing some of that raise to the man on the bottom, janitorial or housekeeping staff????? just a students fair opinion…………..

  6. Joe hernandez on

    these administrators are way over paid some of these guys make more than the president of the United States …and the governor…..any admin on top should not and is not worth more than someone governing a whole state or country….and they definitely make way more than our Mayor.

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