Browder says he "chose" to leave Edison
Browder says he "chose" to leave despite contract being terminated.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - Even though Edison State College's board of trustees voted to terminate Dr. James Browder's contract last May, Browder says he "chose" to leave to pursue other jobs.
The former Lee County superintendent is one of two finalists for a superintendent job in Anchorage, Alaska - about 5,000 miles away.
In his job application he says he "chose" to leave the college due to "distrust and dissension" at the college. He says he wanted to pursue other superintendent jobs.
Browder had a three-year contract and even though he offered to take a pay cut, and was reassigned to an administrative role, the board voted to get rid of him - offering him $175,000 to walk away and not sue.
"A small group of employees attempted to discredit the president [Ken Walker] and me because of our salaries and my lack of post-secondary experience," Browder wrote in his application letter. "I chose to leave the college in May 2011 to pursue K-12 superintendent positions."
The embattled Edison administrator angered faculty during his stint. Many voiced concerns over his more than $200,000 salary, a secret pay raise, and the fact he was brought on without a job search.
His management style was also criticized as too "aggressive."
Browder listed Walker as a reference on his application. And according to Anchorage school board member Don Smith, Browder admitted being friends with Walker.
"He said the college president was a friend," said Smith by phone, "and offered him...to come in and help him, you know, at the college" when he quit the school board in 2010.
After he was hired, a college spokesperson told Fox 4 she didn't know if Browder's job was created just for him.
Browder did not return our calls for comment but told Alaska TV station KTBY-TV he didn't want to be judged by his time at Edison.
"I would certainly hope that you, and everybody else, as you look at what I've done," said Browder, "you judge me as a K-12 person for 36 years as opposed to a 5 1/2, 6 month stint at a state college where it really didn't work out and I didn't fit in."