ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg College board of trustees launched an independent audit of the school's hiring practices Monday amid allegations president Carl Kuttler showed favoritism in hiring a friend to a $60,000-a-year administrative post.
The audit is expected to take four to 10 days, and will focus on the college's hiring practices generally as well as the hiring of Violetta Sweet, said trustee Terrence Brett.
Sweet, 33, was hired as the college's director of international studies though dozens of other applicants appeared more qualified, according to their applications.
A Bradenton consultant with no ties to SPC or Kuttler will perform the review, Brett said. Brett interviewed the consultant, Ron Hamilton of Practical Human Resources Solutions, for an hour last week. Hamilton, who is being paid $1,500 a day for his work, started Monday.
"The marching orders are to do a complete audit of hiring practices and procedures to see if there are areas we've fallen short on, or if there are areas of improvement," Brett said.
Kuttler said through a spokesman he would comply with the audit.
Kuttler and Sweet say Sweet's hiring was appropriate.
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.
Sweet, a native of Kazakhstan who speaks Russian, was hired as acting director of the school's international studies program in December without a public application process. She also was sent to Washington, D.C., as a college consultant and paid $500 a day. Kuttler booked Sweet's hotel room for the trip with his credit card and arranged a tour of the White House through U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.