The vote was conducted by representatives of the Alabama Education Association. Employees were given a simple ballot with two questions – yes meaning the employee did have confidence in the college’s leadership, no meaning no confidence.
Of the 350 votes cast, 312 employees voted no confidence, or 89 percent. 34 employees voted they had confidence, or 10 percent. Four employees voted undecided, or 1 percent.
The vote was not limited to AEA members, officials said, but to any employee with a valid badge. Votes were cast by secret ballot and counted shortly after lunch in the open for employees to watch. The results were announced at Wallace Hall on the Gadsden State Wallace Drive campus.
Staats has been the school’s president since June 2011.
A statement released from the school following the vote read, “Dr. Staats is aware of the vote today. He has not had an opportunity to full analyze these results and will be taking some time to do so.”
Amy Malone, a post-secondary liason with the AEA, said the vote was a guidance tool for the school’s leadership.
The vote came about after complaints from employees and officials. Employees participated at Gadsden State’s main campus, the Cherokee County campus in Centre and the Ayers campus in Calhoun County.
George Terrell, a history instructor at the school and president of the Gadsden State Education Association, said the complaints mainly stem from leadership “not being receptive to what employees have to say.”
“We know that one time in a cabinet meeting, an employee who questioned something was written up for insubordination,” Terrell said, “for merely expressing a different opinion than the president had.”
In addition, the school is creating a new vice president’s position which employees feel is unnecessary, he said. “At a time when education doesn’t have any money, you’re creating a totally useless position, spending incredible amounts of money on strictly non-instructional purposes,” he said. “Our number one priority should be in the classroom.”
AEA officials said this kind of vote has only happened once before in the history of Alabama’s junior/community college system, which was founded in 1965.