TEXAS CITY — As many as seven College of the Mainland employees testified on the administration’s allegations of insubordination and code of ethics violations in a closed-door hearing regarding Professor David Michael Smith on Thursday.
The hearing to discuss Smith’s termination began at 9 a.m. and went nearly eight hours.
The College of the Mainland administration is seeking to terminate Smith’s employment for insubordination and violation for the college’s code of ethics and has him placed on Level 4 discipline, meaning the board of trustees will vote on his termination.
Smith and his attorney, Anthony Griffin, requested the meeting be held in the open, but the request was denied. Instead Smith, along with seven college employees who testified against him, met with the independent investigator, Lisa Brown, an attorney with the Thompson and Horton firm of Houston, in a closed-door session.
College of the Mainland President Beth Lewis said because the meeting was an administrative hearing — and the board of trustees would not be part of the meeting — it could be held behind closed doors.
Lewis was the first to testify in the hearing, followed by Amy Locklear, the college’s vice president of instruction. Other witnesses included social and behavioral sciences faculty members Steve Sewell, Sean Skipworth and Trish Ovesny, as well as Janis Cutaia, a supervisor in the instructional lab department, and campus Police Chief Butch Carr, according to the college.
Smith did not call in any witnesses.
While most witnesses declined to speak to The Daily News after their testimony, Lewis did give some examples of the testimony she and others gave.
“Many of the witnesses are testifying to the idea — and giving examples and evidence — of the hostile environment that (Smith) has created with his colleagues,” Lewis said. “He has not treated them with respect. He has not treated them with anything other than overt hostility.”
There are no grievances filed against Smith, the college confirmed. But Lewis said that was because college employees were afraid of him.
Lewis said she and Locklear testified on their allegations of Smith’s insubordination.
One example, Lewis said, was an allegation that Smith refused to participate in mandatory faculty training.
But Griffin, Smith’s attorney, said Smith had attended all mandatory training and there was no evidence of anyone being intimidated.
“We think we’ll be OK,” Griffin said after the hearing.
Both sides now have five days to submit their closing arguments to the independent investigator. She then has 10 days to issue her report, Lewis said.
That report will then go to the board of trustees, who will conduct an open meeting on Smith’s termination. The public will not be able to speak at that meeting, but both sides will have 10 minutes to state their case before the trustees, Lewis said.