Sunday, May 27, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: PHCC defends hiring practices

In recent weeks, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis questioned me regarding James Nagy's employment at Pasco-Hernando Community College. Their concerns were taken seriously and I immediately launched an investigation that included a diligent analysis of official documents, including internal affairs reports. Upon completion of our investigation and prior to the Aug. 18 publication of "Doubts arise over instructor" in the Times, I advised both sheriffs that the college had no grounds to dismiss Mr. Nagy.

PHCC relies, in part, on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's secure online database that provides current employment and certifications standings for officers and instructors. The college also depends on the FDLE's Bureau of Standards to evaluate internal affairs investigations and related case information to determine if moral character violations have occurred, if grounds for disciplinary action exist, and to complete the disciplinary process as required by Florida statute and Florida Administrative Code.

According to the FDLE, after 23 years of service with the Pasco Sheriff's Office, Mr. Nagy resigned/retired in January 2011 while being investigated for violations of agency policy. In October 2011, Mr. Nagy was hired by the Tarpon Springs Police Department and administratively terminated from that agency in March 2012. This termination did not involve misconduct, according to the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

The FDLE reviewed Mr. Nagy's internal affairs investigation report during his employment in Tarpon Springs and determined no basis for action because the alleged misconduct was not sustained. The Bureau of Standards recommended the case be closed due to a lack of evidence. Additionally, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the matter, also citing a lack of evidence.

When hiring internal candidates, PHCC's screening committees review the college's employment records. An adjunct for the law enforcement academy since 1992, Mr. Nagy's PHCC personnel files document outstanding employment reviews and positive student evaluations that underscore his administrative and classroom skills.

Policies approved by the college's board of trustees and college procedures enable PHCC to operate effectively and to practice — without political influence — fair employment, discipline and termination practices. Mr. Nagy will continue to work in his part-time position at the college unless evidence is produced that clearly proves a claim of misconduct; he violates college policies or procedures; fails to perform his duties as assigned; or otherwise fails to meet college standards.

I assure the community that our academy provides appropriate training and our program is reviewed, evaluated and certified through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, and we retain qualified law enforcement officers and instructors certified by those agencies.

Dr. Katherine M. Johnson, president, Pasco-Hernando Community College

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