INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Southern University fires well-respected, high-profile employee
BATON ROUGE- Southern University officials aren't saying much about what led to the termination of Southern University's beloved registrar, Caronda Bean. Bean says she did things strictly by the book and followed all policies. Sources say being unwilling to bend on those policies may have led to her departure.
For the past three years, Caronda Bean has enjoyed every minute working at Southern University. She was tasked with a big job and people around campus loved her.
"Academic deans, faculty, even the president my previous employees, everyone always said how I'm doing a great job, and they appreciate what I do," Bean said.
But last week, Bean got slapped with a two-page letter indicating she was being terminated without any reason given. She says in a meeting she had with Human Resources she was told that it was a "non-disciplinary" termination, but the university wouldn't even tell her why she was being fired. During her tenure there, she was routinely asked to change students' grades.
"If it was a grade change, the person who initials the grade change is the instructor," Bean said. "The instructor has to initiate the grade change and provide a reason, say why it's being changed. That's one thing I did. I listened to the story but you were going to provide documentation. Whatever it was, it was going to be in writing."
Sources say it was Bean's unwillingness to do things outside of those policies that led to her departure.
She was fired during a tumultuous week for Southern. It happened days before allegations surfaced about a sex tape involving a high-profile school official. Then, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Brandon Dumas, was placed on paid leave while the university reviews all policies and procedures in his department. That happened the same week Bean got fired. Also last week, there were warnings of losing accreditation for missing benchmarks. And,earlier this year more problems... as a law professor Dorothy Jackson was suspended for her actions drafting a woman's will at the Southern Elder Law Clinic and billing for it.
Following all the turmoil at Southern University, over the past two days The Investigative Unit requested an interview with Southern System President, Dr. Ray Belton. Over the past two days Southern University Spokesman Henry Tillman declined an interview with WBRZ.
Longtime Southern Employee Velena Johnson is serving as the Interim Registrar. Sources say she is very close to embattled Vice Chancellor Brandon Dumas. WBRZ caught up with her as she returned from a lunch break.
She was asked if she worked with Brandon Dumas to get Caronda Bean out of a job.
"No," Johnson responded. "I've been at Southern a long time."
Bean still has a lot of pride for Southern University and the job she loves. But, she wants to know why she was let go after being told she was doing such a good job from the highest ranking university officials.
"After everything that has played out last week, and I would say my three years... disappointed... is the word I could use," Bean said. "I'm very disappointed in the university."
In Bean's termination letter it says she has the ability to appeal her firing to the Board of Supervisors. She has already hired an attorney who intends to do just that.