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Gasper Responds To State Findings About Allegations Of Wrongdoing

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ROANOAKE RAPIDS, N.C. — In a news conference Thursday, the embattled president of Halifax Community College responded to several key issues of wrongdoing raised in a recent state audit, including his self-renewing contract with the school and missing computer records.

Suspended President Ted Gasper challenged the points raised in the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor's


, which was released earlier this week.

In the 33-page document, auditors said the school's board of trustees approved a self-renewing four-year contract with significant amendments without approval from the North Carolina Community College System.

But Gasper said Thursday that the board of trustees made that decision, not him "because I didn't know whether I wanted to go from a two-year contract that renewed itself everyday to a four-year contract that locked me into living here," he said.

Auditors also questioned nearly $13,000 in insurance reimbursements and more than $3,000 in travel reimbursements to Gasper, who said insurance was something he negotiated in his contract. As for questioned travel reimbursements, Gasper said his secretary was the one who processed the information.

"I'm not blaming anything on anyone," Gasper said. "But I'm saying what the process is."

The audit also charged that Gasper's executive secretary deleted files from her computer after the college was notified of the state audit. On Tuesday, Gasper's attorney, Gilbert Chichester, disputed that any records were destroyed.

"I did not know that my secretary had downloaded files from her computer's hard drive to floppy disk. Now, some people were saying they were shredded and some were saying they were trashed. That's not true."

Gasper did, however, admit to the audit's finding that he had an automotive instructor work on his vehicle during his workday. While the college allows work on personal cars of students and members of the board of trustees, it does not allow work on the president's vehicle.

"I did have my vehicle serviced and taken care of in the automotive department, that's true," he said.

He also agreed that he leased community college property without state approval in September 2004, but that the lease of office space to U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield was short-term. State policy, he said, covers long-term leases.

On the board of trustees' decision Tuesday not to renew his contract, Gasper only said that he had not received any notice in writing of their decision.

On criticism of his management practices, which are also under investigation, Gasper said he did not evaluate employees -- his staff did.

The board of trustees is expected to conclude its own investigation into allegations against Gasper that focus on money problems, his role, if any, into canceling courses and whether employees were mistreated.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating allegations against Gasper.


Fred Taylor, Reporter
Courtney Davis, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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