Hafner no longer president of SCF; two trustees also resign

October 30, 2012 

BRADENTON — Lars Hafner is no longer the president of the State College of Florida.

After hearing from two Kunkel, Miller & Hament lawyers, who were hired last week to look into exit options for the embattled president, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to sever ties with Hafner and grant him one year’s severance pay.

New trustee Eric Robinson made the initial motion and was seconded by Vice Chairman Craig Trigueiro. Trustees Jennifer Saslaw and Joe Miller, the sole trustees that have consistently advocated for Hafner in the past few months, handed in letters of resignation at the end of them meeting.

Hafner is eligible for 100 percent of his accrued vacation days, a sum of roughly $67,000. He is entitled to sick leave at 25 percent, and will receive about $12,000.

With his base salary of $284,000, he will walk away from the college with roughly $363,000 in total.

The board also granted him school property including an iPad, laptop and gym equipment. He will return his 2008 Lexus in exchange for 12 months of health, dental and vision insurance for he and his daughter, which costs about $1,060 a month.

The presenting counsel said that because Hafner’s contract was last amended in April 2011, a few months before a Florida statute capped severance pay at 20 weeks, the most legally defensible severance payout was one year.

Hafner’s exit comes after several months of arguments with trustees over the cost of construction projects for the school, such as a tennis court and the collegiate charter school that aims to prepare first-generation college students for higher education. Several trustees have made it clear they want a change in leadership.

A vote of no confidence tied in August, about a month before Hafner was cleared of wrongdoing in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement forgery investigation.

The investigation began in July when Chairman Carlos Beruff produced evidence that Hafner forged the signature of a former board chair on a 2010 state grant application for SCF's Collegiate School.

On Monday, a citizen Robert Chandler filed a lawsuit against the trustees, saying they violated the Sunshine Law because the negotiation meetings were not public.

The lawsuit was not specifically addressed at Tuesday’s meeting but attorney John Hament said that no one participated in the discussions of options besides him, his partner and two attorneys representing Hafner.

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