Alabama State University is releasing photocopies of two emails sent by ASU President Dr. Joseph Silver in which he is "purported" to have fired two ASU employees.
The photocopies show that Silver terminated the employment of Executive Vice President John Knight and Vice President of University Relations Danielle Kennedy "for cause and insubordination, effective immediately". The emails were sent at 5:38pm Monday evening, the documents show.
Sources tell WSFA 12 News that not only is Dr. Silver locked out of his office, his university-issued cell-phone, home phone and home internet access have been suspended by ASU. Officials with ASU say such measures are standard practice when someone is placed on leave.
Both Knight and Kennedy remain in their current positions with the university. Knight is now in charge of day-to-day operations of the university in Silver's absence.
ASU General Counsel Kenneth Thomas said the termination emails are not legitimate, as they were sent from Silver's iPhone during Monday's executive committee meeting in which Silver was placed on paid administrative leave.
ASU Board Chairman Elton Dean called the meeting to order at 5:30pm even though the actual starting time of the meeting was 5:40pm, two minutes after Silver sent his emails terminating Knight and Kennedy.
Further, Thomas says the emails "do not meet state and federal due process requirements for a cause termination and are not considered official notices pursuant to the Alabama State University Policies and Procedures Manual and the pattern and practice of ASU."
ASU spokesman Kenneth Mullinax said that Silver's emails were sent while he was in the boardroom, knowing he was about to face action by the board, and the University's official position is that the emails were retaliatory in nature and a violation of Knight and Kennedy's rights of due process under the 14th Amendment.
John Knight, during a news conference called Tuesday, denied ever talking to Silver about being fired and "I never received an official letter from him..."
Silver contends that he has uncovered fraud and conflicts of interest and was put on leave by the Board because he was planning to hire an investigator to look into his findings. He has not released specifics on his allegations. Knight and ASU say the university's financial books are clean and open for inspection, and are calling on Silver to release any information he may have regarding alleged wrongdoings.
EDITORIAL : "Where there's smoke?"
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who is president of ASU's Board of Trustees, is now back in Alabama. Bentley's office says he is "meeting with various individuals to gather more information ahead of Friday's [meeting]"
"Governor Bentley is concerned about the situation at ASU and wants to see a positive resolution that will benefit the school and the students it serves," his press secretary, Jennifer Ardis said.
It's not immediately known if Dr. Silver will be at the meeting, scheduled for Friday morning at 10:00 in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. Many ASU students are planning a sleep-in at the Acadome overnight in preparation for the meeting. Organizers say food has been donated and people are expected to bring cots, blow-up mattresses and sleeping bags.
We will carry live coverage online.
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