4 employees leave LSU over state law dispute

Aerial shot of the LSU campus
Aerial shot of the LSU campus
Updated: Mar. 21, 2019 at 9:01 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU says four highly-compensated university employees who refused to follow a state law tied to their employment have resigned.

LSU administrators allowed the workers to continue to their employment, despite being in violation of state law, until questions were recently raised by the WAFB 9News Investigative Team. The law at issue was passed in 2013 after being authored by then-State Representative John Bel Edwards.

The 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 the state. The four LSU employees, all residents of Illinois, refused to do either.

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The law is 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 knew of the situation since at least Feb. 6, 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, they did not consider themselves to be Louisiana residents and none had obtained a Louisiana license or registered their vehicle with the state, the audit said.

The employees each claimed that complying with Louisiana law would have 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, made $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 and 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 with the law, but nothing had been done by that deadline. The other three LSU employees include Matthew Helm, who made $202,085 per year, Susan Flanagin, who made $149,000 per year, and Thomas Glenn, who made $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 said. Glenn did not receive a relocation stipend.

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