Shelton State finance chief placed on leave pending probe

TUSCALOOSA Ala.

The head of Shelton State Community College’s finance office was placed on paid leave Monday pending a probe of financial operations by the office, school officials said.

The action against Karen VanLuvender, the two-year school’s dean of business services, followed a state examiner’s critical audit and news disclosures of questionable financial arrangements at the Tuscaloosa campus.

Leigh Hays, a spokeswoman for Shelton State, said the decision was made by Interim President Joanne Jordan with the approval of two-year system Chancellor Bradley Byrne.

Hays said she didn’t know the period of time the investigation covers and that it would be inappropriate for her to comment at this point on any decisions that led to the personnel action concerning the finance official.

VanLuvender, who joined the school in December 1990, had been dean of business services since September 1999, Hays said. An attempt to reach VanLuvender for comment was not immediately successful Monday.

The state audit released Friday said the private Shelton State Community College Foundation appeared to have used public funds to build the college president’s $560,000 residence. The audit said the foundation was selling the home and would reimburse the college any state funds spent on it.

The audit, which covered the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2006, was critical of Shelton State in its financial dealings with the private Shelton State Community College Foundation and the Alabama Fire College Foundation.

“It appears contractual agreements are being utilized to divert public funds to foundations,” the audit said.

The examiners said state and federal investigators were probing “several” findings that occurred during the tenure of former Shelton State President Rick Rogers and former two-year college system Chancellor Roy Johnson.

Rogers was placed on paid administrative leave in November 2006 amid the investigation, with Jordan named to serve as acting president. In June, the state school board voted to accept Rogers’ retirement, effective Sept. 30. He had been president since 2000.

With VanLuvender on leave, DeLane Bailey, associate dean of business services, “will assume the day-to-day management of the area during the transition,” Hays said in a statement.

–Associated Press



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