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HR chief named in lawsuit no longer with HACC

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Dennis Heinle, who was named a defendant with President John J. Sygielski in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against Harrisburg Area Community College, is no longer with the college.

Heinle was serving as interim chief human resources officer for HACC when the lawsuit was filed in June by Todd A. Crawley, who had worked for HACC since 2006 and in July 2012 was appointed its director of public safety. The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; the most recent action was March 17, when Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner scheduled trial for Dec. 1.

According to the college, Heinle had served as director of its Professional Development Institute since Nov. 18, when Aimee Brough became the new HR chief. Brough issued the following statement this morning:

"The College is developing a new direction for the College's training and professional development efforts. To that end, a decision has been made to change the leadership within the Faculty and Development Staff Institute. Therefore, effective March 21, 2014, Mr. Dennis Heinle no longer serves the College. We appreciate Mr. Heinle's contributions and service to the College. Mr. Heinle's efforts were instrumental during a transitional period for the College. For his efforts, HACC owes him a debt of gratitude."

Heinle succeeded Lisa Sanford, whose time as HACC chief human resource officer ended Feb. 15, 2013.

According to records obtained from HACC in an open records request, Sanford signed a confidential separation agreement and general release agreement with HACC in which both parties agreed not to disparage or criticize the other "in any communication of whatever nature with any third parties." The agreement says HACC paid Sanford her base compensation through Dec. 31, 2013, in the amount of $97,572.12 less payroll taxes and other legally mandated withholdings. She was also paid for remaining vacation and sick days dating to 1988.

Crawley's lawsuit alleges that Sygielski pressured Crawley and Sanford to create a false report and that Sygielski then removed Sanford from her position and replaced her with Heinle. The college responded last June by saying it commissioned an independent investigation of Crawley's claims that found no misconduct, no retaliation and nothing illegal done by the college administration.

According to the college, Brough is a Perry County resident and has an MBA from Penn State at Middletown and a bachelor's degree in human resources management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her background includes almost 20 years in public service, most recently as human resources director for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, an agency of approximately 2,600 employees.

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