HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority reached an agreement on Monday to suspend the agency's Chief Executive Officer Adelee Le Grand with pay.
Several board members also seemed ready to consider firing Le Grand after receiving a scathing report about the CEO during the special board meeting.
HART’s board of directors received a blistering report on Le Grand from outside attorney David Adams, who said he had interviewed 50 employees, Le Grand herself, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents and policies.
Adams concluded Le Grand had fostered a hostile work environment, withheld information from board members to protect her own reputation and violated HART policy by paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance packages to a litany of top executives who’ve resigned or been fired under her leadership.
“I believe Le Grand has created an environment of fear and intimidation,” Adams said. “The CEO's behavior has caused abnormal turnover and agency communication is terrible because people are afraid to speak up.”
Adams also pointed to documents suggesting Le Grand knew about her now-former Chief Customer Experience Officer Teri Wright working at a second job in New Orleans but did not mention it to board members until months later – and only after it had been brought to light in news reports.
Board members set a goal to meet in early May, at which time disciplinary action and Le Grand’s termination could occur.
Her attorney argued they’d just received the report and needed time to respond.
“The report seems to take the side of everyone and never credits Miss Le Grand as having been the accurate source of accurate information,” Le Grand’s attorney Steven Wenzel said. “We want to put that evidence in front of you all.”
At least one board member argued Le Grand should immediately be suspended and removed from a position of power.
“I believe it would be extremely irresponsible after what we just saw and to allow this individual to continue to have the acting power of CEO until we have that public hearing,” HART Board Member Joshua Wostal said.
Attorneys for the board and Le Grand were able to reach a compromise.
They gave her and her lawyer a few more weeks of time for Le Grand to prepare her defense in exchange for voluntarily stepping aside -- with pay -- until the board decides what to do.
It’s possible HART’s board of directors could still negotiate a settlement with Le Grand that would enable her to resign. That’s what the agency ended up doing with its previous CEO -- whom Le Grand was hired to replace.
Board members then voted to appoint HART’s Chief of Maintenance and Transportation Scott Drainville as the interim CEO.
Drainville, who was present at the meeting, accepted the temporary role.