Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Kentucky State's president told he's out by month's end

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Kentucky State University regent chairman Bill Wilson has told president George Reid to clear out by June 30 and severely restricted his authority to act until then.

        A judge on Monday cleared the way for the regents to take up Mr. Reid's employment during a meeting scheduled for Thursday. The regents voted last November to extend Mr. Reid's contract, which expires at the end of this month. But no contract was ever signed, and regents say that means Mr. Reid is out. Mr. Reid said the vote was the same as a contract, and he wants to stay on or get paid $3 million to settle.

        Mr. Reid went to court Monday to try to prohibit the regents from acting on his employment, but Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden said he would not make any orders based on speculation about what the board might do.

        “I don't know what the board's actions will be. We'll wait and see what happens on Thursday,” Judge Crittenden said.

        KSU attorney William E. Johnson said Mr. Reid's contract ends June 30 and after that he has no job. “If it's not in writing, it's not enforceable. Oral contracts don't fly in Kentucky,” Mr. Johnson said.

        Mr. Wilson gave clear indication about whether the board thinks Mr. Reid will be staying on. In a letter to Mr. Reid on June 12 and released Monday, Mr. Wilson said Mr. Reid may not hire or fire anyone, enter into any agreements on behalf of the school and not destroy or remove any records from the campus.

        “The board will expect you to vacate the university property not later than midnight, June 30, 2002, unless earlier directed by the board,” Mr. Wilson said.

        Mr. Wilson also said Mr. Reid cannot take any university travel outside Kentucky without his permission.

        Mr. Reid said after the court hearing Monday that he wants to stay on as KSU president. “I don't ever run away from hard work or hard, tough circumstances, and I won't run away from this one,” Mr. Reid said.

        If, as expected, the board acts Thursday to end Mr. Reid's presidency, attorney Thomas Clay said he will be back in court immediately.

        Mr. Clay said negotiations with the regents about a severance package for Mr. Reid are “at a dead stop.”

        Besides the disagreement over the contract, Mr. Reid has filed a complaint against Mr. Wilson and another regent, Marlene Helm under the so-called “Whistleblower law.” Mr. Reid said Mr. Wilson and Ms. Helm have a conflict of interest in their role as members of the Committee on Equal Opportunities, a committee of the Council on Postsecondary Education to advise the council on implementing a higher education desegregation plan in conjunction with the federal government.

        Mr. Reid argues that Mr. Wilson has tried to keep him from reporting on the problems caused at KSU by the work of Mr. Wilson and Ms. Helm on the equal opportunities council.

        Mr. Clay said Monday that Mr. Reid must be protected from retribution by Mr. Wilson under the whistleblower law.

        Also Monday, Mr. Crittenden disqualified Mr. Johnson from representing KSU in further legal proceedings. Mr. Clay said Mr. Johnson had a conflict because he previously has represented KSU in cases where Mr. Reid was also a defendant.


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