In February 2012, Herster wrote to inform University officials of the School of Art’s alleged unlawful collection of fees and provided evidence that the School’s Director had allegedly misappropriated student fee money for the personal or positional benefit of himself and certain faculty members.
LSU systems auditors began an investigation based on Herster’s letter. Less than a year later, on Jan. 10, 2013, the LSU System Office of Internal Audit issued a report confirming the information in Herster’s letter, the suit asserts.
According to the audit report, the School of Art has charged its students “an average of at least $28,000 annually” in fees that were never authorized by the LSU Board of Supervisors nor, as required by law, the state legislature. These illegal fees represent more than a 33% increase in student fee revenue for the School of Art.
The audit report also found the Director of the School of Art allegedly inappropriately used course fee funds paid by students. It discloses that a “sample” of purchases from course fee revenue by the School of Art during fiscal year 2011 and 2012 unearthed over $20,000 in purchases that violated LSU policy requiring course fee revenue to be spent for the benefit of the students paying the fees, specifically, on supplies for their courses. Instead, the School of Art purchased iPads, Mac Mini computers and other equipment for faculty.
Further, concurrent with the inappropriate charging of illegal fees and inappropriate use of funds collected from students, the report reveals that the School of Art Director allegedly solicited and received an additional $32,000 annually from the University, claiming it was for student course materials
In March 2012, as auditors found evidence supporting Herster’s February letter, one auditor warned that University officials sought to retaliate against Herster based on her whistleblowing activities, the suit says.
Shortly after, Herster was given notice of termination by Kenneth Carpenter, the Dean of the LSU College of Art & Design on April 3, 2012.
A suit represents one party’s claims against another and does not represent both sides of the issue.