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Former chancellor says he never misled board

BIRMINGHAM (AP) - Former two-year college chancellor Roy Johnson is disputing the state school board's decision to fire him over a $862,500 software contract - a document he said he never saw.

Johnson said he never authorized spending more than $450,000 for adult education software, despite claims from two-year college officials that he agreed to spend nearly twice that much without telling state school board members.

"I've never seen that contract," Johnson said Thursday. He said the school board was wrong to break its July agreement that he would continue to draw his salary for eight months while he was placed on administrative leave.

Records provided by two-year college officials show Johnson didn't sign the contract documents. The records also include a letter from Johnson authorizing the college president who signed the contract to limit spending to $450,000.

In a Feb. 10 letter, Johnson notes the $450,000 authorized by the state board for the contract "is the maximum expenditure level authorized. Therefore, should the lowest responsible bid exceed board authorization, further board action will be required."

Johnson was given a new four-year contract in July 2005, but it was terminated by the board. He was placed on leave on July 11 amid concerns over a corruption probe and nepotism issues, but had still been the system's chancellor until he was fired with cause on Nov. 9.

Board members were unanimous in the move, which stop-ped Johnson from continuing to draw his $237,000 annual salary.

The board's action came after Interim Chancellor Thom-as Corts submitted a report outlining the agreement to buy the Aztec Software.

Corts told board members that system administrators have said Johnson pushed the Aztec deal, knew it cost more than $450,000 and misled the board about whether competitive bids were required.

Johnson said he left the software deal to Ed Meadows, president of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College. He said he instructed Meadows to find a suitable software product in 2005, limit the cost to $450,000 and determine whether it should be competitively bid.

Aztec officials have said in recent interviews that they never discussed the contract with Johnson.

Johnson said he believes the system's own records and Aztec company officials will confirm that he was not responsible for the $862,500 agreement signed by Meadows. System records show that Meadows signed the Aztec deal in November 2005, nearly three months before state board members approved it.

Johnson said he also believes the records prove he didn't mislead state school board members and, therefore, he shouldn't lose his paid leave.

"I left the position with a good understanding of the conditions I was leaving under," Johnson said. "I feel like they violated their end of the bargain, without just cause."

Johnson's lawyer, Joe Espy of Montgomery, is requesting records from the two-year college system to identify what evidence the state board has that Johnson is guilty of "dishonesty in the performance of his duties to the board." Board members cited the clause from his contract when they stripped Johnson of his paid leave.

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Information from: The Birmingham News

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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