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.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

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(10) comments

Carol Voight

HaHaHaHa!! Dr. Smith is the intimidator and everyone is scared of him??? This is rich!! No wonder Mr. Griffin is dancing.

Mike Meador

Griffin is dancing because, one way or another, other people will be paying for his services - whatever they may be.

Allan Knape

Truth is coming out...

Carol Voight

You guys can believe what you want. The real truth is that the Admin and BOT are the ones creating a hostile environment. The 7 employees speaking out against Dr. Smith are the ones that don't like him personally and one of them is his dept. chair. Doesn't say much for that man's leadership skills. Keep in mind that if Dr. Smith was terrorizing the campus for all of these years, the 100+ employees in the union would NEVER have elected him union president so many times. These 7 employees are not members of the union and that's why they are the only ones the admin called to testify. I might add that these 7 are also buddy-buddy with the admin, including let's say intimate relations in at least one case. Some of them are also friends with and support the known sexual predator on campus so I wouldn't trust their word anyway.

7 vs. 100. The odds are in Dr. Smith's favor, not COM's. But ya'll keep grasping at straws.

kevjlang
Kevin Lang

I'm wrestling with things here. I assume that these folks that lined up against Smith aren't fresh off the turnip truck. As such, they clearly would have known that the college would love have loved any dirt they could possibly dig up on Smith. Thus, one would assume that if they ratted out his behavior to the Administration, they'd chomp down hard on it, and they'd provide whatever protection was necessary to keep Smith from retaliating.

Also, every workplace these days has processes for reporting cases of harassment in the workplace. I'm wondering how admissible these statements are in light of the fact that these employees did not follow the process for having their concerns logged and investigated.

Also, it's not the norm to terminate someone on allegations of hostility, nor on the first finding of guilt. Generally, there is an attempt to remedy the situation. Certainly, there are situations where termination would not only be the first remedy, but the only legitimate one. Something like sexual misconduct, for example.

I certainly think these people with allegations of Smith's hostility deserve to have their charges investigated, and if found to be true and egregious, they very well could be grounds for dismissal. However, I don't think yesterday's forum was the proper forum for bringing those allegations to light, and it was definitely not the forum for investigating them.

JBG JBG

"There are no grievances filed against Smith, the college confirmed. But Lewis said that was because college employees were afraid of him."
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The truth is coming out alright! Mr. Smith is some kind of AXE MURDERER, who is above the laws of this country, State and County, so,......"I....I.... was afraid to file a grievance against him, but Madame .......I....I.....got reason to speak up now!"
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I think it is women afraid at COM alright, but not of Mr. Smith. I think they are afraid of some individuals groping them, making advances at them,..and threatening them it they tell anybody! Isn't is interesting that COM'S Administration can't or don't want to hear their voices?
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Ohhhhh, I love this! These people are making bigger fools out of themselves than I thought they would! I got to get some stock in Mr. Griffins Law Firm! I'm going to be driving over there today to beg him, and plead with him for some. I don't ask for much in this old world,...and I always give more than I take. He can sell me a few thousand shares,...and I'm going to tell him that!
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Oh yea Cougargator, ...don't blame Mr. Griffin for this "SEWER PLANT," stinking up the Gulf Coast,...put the blame where it is supposed to be, and that is with that over egotistical, out of touch,ineffective COM administration, and BOT. They have no viable evidence in which to "publicly lynch" this employee, so it looks like from what I'm seeing, they have resulted to making up stuff! They seem to want to keep everything SECRET,...does that tell you anything?
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If you got something and believe in what you have, why don't you want the public to see what you have, to hear you deliver up what you got? I'll tell you why,...because that is the way the KINGDOM Of DARKNESS operate! It operates on the principles of deceit,..deception, duplicity, and hypocrisy!
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Revelation 12:10 says that Satan, in some way has the ability to ACCUSE God's people before GOD,day and night! It looks to me this is the same "MO" COM is using now on Mr. Smith! If it is any intimidation going on at COM, in my opinion it is being done by COM'S BOT and Administration!
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One more thing buddy,...if you are concerned about how taxpayer's money is being spent, and I know you are, then you should be concerned about what that BOT and their DRONES are doing with our money and not Mr. Griffin! He don't see his name on NOTHING out there, and he is for sure,...not making any financial decision out there, so why blame him?


JBG JBG

Correction, *** last paragraph.
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He don't see his name on NOTHING out there, and he is for sure,...not making any financial decision out there, so why blame him? SHOULD BE,
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I don't see his name on NOTHING out there........!
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Oh yeas and my point concerning Revelation 12:10 was that the same thing the enemy is accusing God's people of doing IS JUST WHAT HE IS DOING, AND CONTINUES TO DO IN THIS WORLD EVERYDAY! See any similarities? I do!!!!

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

No one should be afraid of their workplace. That alone makes a potential hostile work situation for every other employee, for which the employer is liable.

kevjlang
Kevin Lang

Ron, I totally agree. In most workplaces of any size, there are established forums where these kinds of allegations are supposed to be reviewed. Mere allegations are not enough to establish guilt.

That noted, if these allegations do get routed through the correct processes, and it can be shown that his conduct deserves termination, he should be terminated.

And, if the college hasn't been clear about employees' rights and responsibilities where it comes to reporting such actions, then the college is due for some remediation, too.

Dorothy Holt

Tenured. The entire problem.

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