Story has been updated to clarify Ayers-Palmore’s contract status.
Kenya Ayers-Palmore said she was fired from her job as NE Campus president and is fighting back.
“I am in the process of addressing the actions taken to remove me from leadership and cannot say more at this time,” Ayers-Palmore said in a statement to The Collegian.
A source familiar with the situation explained the former president’s termination Oct. 27 did not follow due process. Ayers-Palmore filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received Nov. 4 and filed an appeal with the board of trustees Nov. 9, the source said.
“She will defend her rights, she will engage legal counsel because she has to have it for the formal appeal that the [college] offers,” the source said. “And then before any litigation, she will exhaust all of her administrative remedies.”
Reginald Gates, vice chancellor of communications and external affairs said the college cannot comment on personnel matters.
In June, Ayers-Palmore was evaluated and received a positive rating, the source said. In the termination letter served to her, however, the source said it detailed Ayers-Palmore’s failure to follow the chancellor’s orders, though this was not mentioned in the evaluation.
At the time of her dismissal, Ayers-Palmore did not have a contract with the college, even though she asked for one during her evaluation, according to the source. She was told she would not receive one Aug. 21, the first day of the fall semester. This was used against her in the termination letter.
“She kept asking for it and was told and assured she would get one,” the source said. “There was no reason why she would think she wouldn’t get one, but she never got one.”
In Ayers-Palmore’s statement, she explains that she hoped to lead NE Campus to success for not just the employees, but students as well.
“I looked forward to doing much more to grow our beloved Northeast campus in alignment with the greater college goals,” she said. “Unfortunately, that work has now been cut short.”
Ayers-Palmore started as president in July 2019. Prior to TCC, she was the vice president and chair of the board for Northwest Educational Council for Student Success in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
NE Campus employees were notified at 11:33 a.m. Oct. 30 through an email from Chancellor Elva LeBlanc that Ayers-Palmore was no longer serving as president.
Students did not receive notification of her leave, however, and some found out that same day attending the Student Empowerment Forum with the President event at 12:30 p.m. They were confused to find she was not there.
The announcement email explained that the search for the NE Campus president is to happen immediately. Listings for the position were put out on The Chronicle of Higher Education and TCC’s job listing website Nov. 3.
“I am confident that with your support and that of all the faculty and staff, we will continue to move forward in service to our students and community,” LeBlanc said in the email.
Ayers-Palmore said that she was honored to serve the college despite her abrupt exit and encouraged the campus community to persevere.
“I will learn and grow from this experience,” she said in the statement. “My mission as an educator is to build the next generation of leaders who lead authentically and guide our organization to greater peace, wisdom and justice. I trust that you will pick up the mantle from here.”