LAKEWOOD RANCH --- The State College of Florida Board of Trustees didn’t hold a vote of no-confidence for Lars Hafner at a special meeting Tuesday scheduled to finish the president's evaluation.
Instead, board Chairman Carlos Beruff read a motion to hire counsel from the Sarasota-law firm Kunkel, Miller and Hament to advise the trustees on options concerning Hafner's employment status. Another motion would have this counsel meet with Hafner’s attorney to come to a “mutual agreement” concerning his employment status by Oct. 30, when the board has its next regularly scheduled meeting.
Both motions were unanimously approved.
Recent dialogue made this new development possible, Beruff said. But the chairman offered little more information on what these meetings might mean, explaining to board members that it would allow parties to come to “anything that could be practical.”
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State College attorney Steve Prouty later confirmed that the meetings will concern "settlement dialogue."
Hafner, 51, had a faint smile on his face throughout the proceedings, but did not speak. He declined to comment after the meeting.
The trustees have been at odds with Hafner for the past six months, particularly Beruff who pushed for a forgery investigation concerning Hafner's signing of documents with the signature of the past board of trustee's chair.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement found Hafner did not commit forgery. Beruff and others, however, have questioned Hafner's judgment on other issues.
According to his contract, which was extended through 2016 last year, Hafner could walk away from State College of Florida with $1.6 million in payouts if the board replaces him. However, state statutes capping severance pay enacted after his contract may make that figure significantly lower.