Jun 25, 2013

HACC issues statement regarding whistleblower suit

HARRISBURG, Pa. – An independent investigation by an expert in higher education was commissioned by HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, to investigate the claims of discrimination and retaliation by a HACC employee detailed in a federal complaint filed Monday, June 24, 2013.

The independent investigation by Brett Sokolow found no misconduct and no retaliation and found that nothing illegal was done by the College administration, said David Keller, HACC’s legal counsel. Sokolow is president and CEO of The NCHERM Group LLC in Malvern. The investigation began in March 2013, and concluded on June 9, 2013.

The employee, Todd Crawley, filed a suit under the federal False Claims Act and Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania naming the College; HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D.; and Dennis Heinle, interim chief human resources officer.

Sygielski said, “I am angered by the attack on the College and me personally. I am an ethical and moral person. I would never do anything to jeopardize the integrity and reputation of the College – and I would never do anything to damage my own integrity, character and reputation. My parents taught me that all you really have are your character and good name. Therefore, I will fight hard for both of them.”

“I have made many significant, challenging but necessary changes since I was hired to serve as president of HACC almost two years ago in July 2011. When leaders make these types of changes, unfortunately, they become targets, and these situations occur. It is sad that hardworking HACC employees must spend precious time addressing these false, untrue and unfounded allegations instead of focusing on our top priority – our students,” Sygielski said.

“This lawsuit will not deter me and other leaders at HACC. We will continue to make the changes that are necessary to move the College forward. We will do it boldly, courageously and transparently,” Sygielski said. “I am confident that the College’s students, employees, alumni, board members, donors and other supporters will see this situation for what it is – an unfortunate ploy to retaliate against me and others for the tough decisions we have made during the past few years.”

Sygielski continued, “As you can imagine, there is much more to this story. However, we have to be careful about what we disclose, because doing otherwise may put the College in legal jeopardy. Those we serve and those who support us need to know that this College is being led by ethical and moral individuals who continue to identify and resolve challenges that occurred before many of us were hired.”

Heinle said, “This lawsuit is outrageous and unfounded. I look forward to the opportunity to get the truth out there.”

The complaint was reported today in the Central Penn Business Journal and can be found online at http://www.centralpennbusiness.com/article/20130625/CPBJ01/130629869/Former--public-safety-director-sues-HACC-president-head-of-HR.