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Some FSCJ leaders want out

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Updated: 10/23/2012 11:18 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Two board members at Florida State College of Jacksonville are looking to jump ship.

One is appealing to the governor to let him leave in the midst of a growing scandal. An investigation is underway into improperly handed -out student loans and a bloated severance package for its departing president.

Action News obtained a letter that board of trustees member Jim McCollum sent to the governor. He sent it the same day he voted to approve a golden parachute contract for President Steve Wallace.

Jim McCollum was reappointed just last year to the board, but now he wants out. Action News obtained an email that McCollum wrote that says, "I do not wish to be considered for reappointment at this time." He cited recent events and said he wanted to spend more time on "personal activities." He's the second board member who has expressed concerns.

Earlier this month, Suanne Thamm wrote in an email, "I am trying to decide whether to serve out my term or resign early."

Students like Shelly Paige are already feeling the effects on campus. "I'd want out. I'd be trying to run," said Paige. "With the audit going on, it concerns me there may be repercussions."

Governor Rick Scott ordered the audit after millions of dollars were mistakingly awarded to students for Pell Grants and then the board approved Wallace's $1.2 million golden parachute.

Action News is going through the same documents the governor has asked for. We found tens of thousands of dollars spent as far back as 2007 on booze alone. That money was supposed to help further the college's relationship with the community.

Instead, it has students upset about Wallace's leadership. "We pay a lot to go here, and it's nothing close to what he's getting paid to leave," said Paige.

We did try calling the board members. We only were able to get ahold of the chair, Gwen Yates. She tells Action News people have to make their own decisions and she respects McCollum's.

So far the governor's office says the governor hasn't responded to McCollum's letter. In it, McCollum also states he wants out by the end of the year.
Six of the nine board members still have to be confirmed by the Florida Senate. Senator John Thrasher tells Action News that could be hard given the scrutiny going on right now.
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