Alachua County recently fired Facilities Director Charlie Jackson over inappropriate hiring practices, a charge Jackson denied in emails to county commissioners.
According to two public-record emails sent to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Jackson wrote that on Feb. 4 County Manager Michele Lieberman and Human Resources Director Heather Akpan placed him on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. On Feb. 11, Liberman terminated Jackson, according to his email.
“[Jackson] was terminated,” county spokesman Mark Sexton said in a phone interview with Mainstreet Daily News. “We prefer not to have discussions about HR matters.”
In an email sent Monday, Jackson described the events as follows: “On February 4, 2022, while on a zoom call, County Manager Michele Lieberman and HR Director Heather [Akpan] held a conversation with me around 4:30 p.m. During the conversation, Heather alleged that I was conducting inappropriate hiring practices in the department. No one has been hired in this case. Yet each time over the past 10 or more years that the County’s hiring process in the Facilities Department resulted in a recommendation of playing a qualified African American into a management position, (Facilities Manager), it ends up in an inquiry and or investigation. Because of this allegation, Ms. Liberman informed me that she was placing me on administrative leave for 14 days with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. On or around February 8, 2022, I received a text from the HR Director inviting me to meet with the County Manager on Friday, February 11, 2022, at 4:30 p/m. At this meeting, I was informed by the County Manager that she had lost confidence in me as a director and was terminating me.”
Jackson then asked the BOCC for documentation within three days.
“Upon your receipt of this email, I am respectively requesting to the Commission for a copy of the investigation and any documents relating to the allegation by Thursday, February 17, 2022, by 5:00 p.m.,” Jackson wrote.
The Monday email came two days after Jackson sent his first email to the BOCC, in which he said he was unjustly fired.
“One week ago, I was placed on administrative leave by the County Manager for claims of impropriate hiring practices pending the outcome of an investigation,” Jackson wrote. “Yesterday, I was unjustly terminated by her because she felt that she did not feel comfortable in my ability to lead the department for personnel issues. This is personal and is an opinion.”
Jackson said the incident capped two decades of harassment and discrimination while he worked for the county.
“Since my employment with the County, and as an African American combat veteran, I feel that I have been a 20-year victim of continuous harassment, discrimination and treated unfairly with decision making, funding, support and staffing compared to others,” Jackson wrote. “Adding additional attacks since the planning and renaming of the Alachua County Criminal Courthouse and the false estimates on the renovation and repair cost reported to the Commission for Camp Cuscowilla. This is just the beginning, there is much more.”
Jackson did not return a request for comment on Thursday.
Tommy Crosby, assistant county manager of budget and fiscal services, will assume the facilities director duties until further notice.
“[Crosby] is the assistant county manager and facilities was one of the departments under his purview and he will be filling in as the interim for the near future,” Sexton said.