Audit finds no wrongdoing in SPC hiring case
St. Petersburg College’s hiring of Violetta Sweet, a close friend to school president Carl Kuttler, did not violate college, state or federal hiring practices, an independent auditor told the college’s Board of Trustees this morning.
(Read the audit report HERE).
Auditor Ron Hamilton said he found no evidence Kuttler abused his power in the college’s decision to hire Sweet, a 33-year-old jewelry store employee, to lead the school’s international studies unit.
He did however suggest several changes to school policy to, he said, avoid a perception of impropriety. Among his recommendations:
- Make acting and interim jobs open to all potential candidates. Sweet was hired first as acting director without a job search.
- Lessen Kuttler’s role in the hiring process. The president currently interviews all finalists for faculty and administrative positions. He should only interview candidates for high level management positions.
- Hiring manages should attend interview training. Hamilton described interview notes as “scant.”
- Make job requirements and job descriptions less vague.
A former low-level college employee who earned $10.70 an hour, Sweet spent the past three years working at her estranged husband's jewelry store before she was hired as acting director of the school's international studies program in December 2007 at a nearly $60,000 salary.
She also was sent to Washington, D.C., as a college consultant, and paid $1,000. Kuttler booked Sweet's hotel room for the trip with his personal credit card and arranged a tour of the White House through U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.
Board of Trustees member Ken Burke suggested Kuttler stop using his personal credit card to book travel. Kuttler said the practice was commonplace.
Trustees, who saw the audit for the first time Monday, said they wanted to continue to review the report before making any final recommendations.
Aaron Sharockman, Times staff writer