Four LSU employees face termination for spurning state law

Four LSU employees face termination for spurning state law
LSU Quadrangle (Source: Eddy Perez)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU acknowledged Wednesday, Mar. 13 that four highly-compensated university employees continue to refuse to follow a state law tied to their employment.

If LSU President F. King Alexander himself follows state law, he will have no choice but to terminate the four if they continue to defy the state statute that is at issue. The statute was passed in 2013 after being authored by then-State Representative John Bel Edwards.

“They have not complied, and the university is formulating an action plan related to those individuals,” LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard said of the four employees Wednesday afternoon.

Louisiana law requires any state employee earning over $100,000 per year must obtain a Louisiana driver’s license and register any vehicles in their name in Louisiana. The four LSU employees have refused to do either.

The law is crystal clear about the penalty for not complying.

“Any person hired or employed in an unclassified position who does not meet the requirements of this Section, or who no longer meets the requirements of this Section, shall be removed and terminated within thirty days of the public employer learning such person does not meet the requirements of this Section,” the law says.

LSU has known of the situation since at least February 6, 2019 when an internal audit was released in response to a confidential tip that the four employees were not compliant. Despite all four employees having worked at LSU for more than a full year now, they still do not consider themselves to be Louisiana residents and none has obtained a Louisiana license or registered their vehicle with the state, the audit says.

The employees each claim that complying with Louisiana law would put them in a legal bind with the State of Illinois, where they are still legal residents and where their primary homes are still located.

The highest-paid of the four, LSU Chief Technology Officer Andrea Ballinger, makes $268,000 a year working at LSU, the audit says. Ballinger was given a $20,000 relocation stipend to assist with her move to Baton Rouge. Ballinger was hired from Illinois State University in 2017, where she was making $193,424 per year. Ballinger was recruited to Baton Rouge by her former colleague, LSU Vice President of Finance Dan Layzell.

Layzell is the former Vice President for Finance and Planning for Illinois State University, who came to LSU in 2014.

The four employees say when they accepted the jobs at LSU, they were unaware of the law requiring them to obtain a Louisiana driver’s license and to register their vehicles in Louisiana. Each indicated they would have declined the LSU job offer if they were aware of that requirement, the audit says.

LSU responded to the Feb. 6 audit by saying each of the four employees would be told they had to comply with the Louisiana law in order to continue their employment with LSU.

LSU management set Mar. 8 as a “tentative target date” for the employees to comply.

“Certainly, the governor expects that LSU employees would comply with the law,” Edwards’ spokesperson, Christina Stephens, said Monday.

The other three LSU employees include Matthew Helm, who makes $202,085 per year, Susan Flanagin, who makes $149,000 per year, and Thomas Glenn, who makes $144,200 per year at LSU. Helm was given a $15,000 relocation stipend by LSU and Flanagin was given a $5,000 relocation stipend, the audit says. Glenn did not receive a relocation stipend.

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