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SPC provost fired after officials say he waited too long to disclose arrest

By Claire McNeill
Marvin L. Bright arrived at St. Petersburg College in 2014 to serve as provost of its Tarpon Springs Campus. [Times files]

The president of St. Petersburg College has chosen to fire a campus provost after school officials said he strayed from protocol, withholding information about an eyebrow-raising arrest for too long.

Marvin Bright, the former leader of SPC's Tarpon Springs campus, was arrested on Sept. 1 after Pasco sheriff's deputies said he forced his way into the home of a woman he had dated and choked her.

But school officials say it wasn't until Sept. 18 that Bright told them about the allegations. He has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and domestic battery by strangulation.

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"The dismissal is not connected to the allegations or anything regarding what's happening in the courts," college spokeswoman Rita Farlow said. "It's related to the policies the college contends were not followed."

Bright has defended himself, saying he attempted several times to arrange a meeting about his arrest with President Tonjua Williams. When Bright finally did speak with officials, they placed him on paid administrative leave.

A school official wrote a memo outlining Bright's "misconduct in office," including a failure to inform his bosses about the charges in a timely manner, delaying in returning his school keys and ID badge, and "not being truthful and forthcoming" when it came to documentation about the arrest.

That official recommended Bright's firing. Bright, 53, was then allowed a meeting with a college official.

Williams reviewed information from that meeting, including statements from Bright, and on Wednesday sent him a letter to let him know he was fired.

Bright's criminal attorney, Gerasimos "Jerry" Theophilopoulos, who was not present for the meeting, said Thursday that "the college clearly rushed to vilify him."

"We stand by Dr. Bright and the integrity that his name carries," Theophilopoulos said. "The writing was on the wall before the hearing even started."

He said Bright plans to fight back against the college.

An arrest report says that, early on Aug. 21, Bright entered the home of a woman he had dated periodically over the last two years. She told him to leave, but he wouldn't, a deputy wrote.

The pair argued, and Bright grabbed the woman by the neck and squeezed, the report says.

The woman sustained minor or no injuries, according to Pasco officials.

Contact Claire McNeill at [email protected]