The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

May 14, 2014

Iowa universities identify disqualified ex-workers

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Nearly 100 former University of Iowa employees are disqualified from returning to work because of previous firings, but only a handful of ex-workers at the state's two other public universities face similar restrictions, according to records released Tuesday.

Spreadsheets released by the Iowa Board of Regents show that the universities have fewer disqualified former workers than Iowa's executive branch, which last month released a list of 975 individuals with that status but acknowledged Tuesday the document was deeply flawed.

The records raise new questions about the state's practice of barring some former workers, which has created a headache for Gov. Terry Branstad's administration. They show that each university has a different way of tracking and excluding fired workers and that those methods are different than state agencies' procedures, adding to critics' claims that there is no consistency for how those decisions are carried out.

The University of Northern Iowa, for instance, says it identified no former workers who have been disqualified from re-employment since 2005. Iowa State University named only six terminated employees who are ineligible to return to work.

No academic staff or faculty members, even those who have been fired for misconduct, were named in the documents released to The Associated Press. University of Iowa spokesman Joseph Brennan said that their firings are tracked separately from a centralized database of nonacademic employees, and that departments would be expected to check references and personnel files when deciding on whether to rehire them.

Brennan said the university makes a recommendation not to rehire individuals in their personnel files when they are dismissed for cause.

"It's done for really good management reasons, and it's consistent and appropriate under the law," he said.

Then-Department of Administrative Services Director Michael Carroll told lawmakers last month that his agency didn't keep a list of disqualified former workers. Days later, his department released a spreadsheet showing that 975 employees had been disqualified due to firings and resignations dating to 1990. Democratic lawmakers said they were misled. Union leaders accused the governor of keeping a secret blacklist. Some workers — including a few currently employed by the state — complained that they were erroneously listed.

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