PCC clears college IT professor

Published 6:10 pm Monday, March 28, 2016

Pitt Community College officials spoke out last week against allegations that one of its IT professors misused college resources in his freelance work with local candidates.

Last week, a letter from Beaufort County Commissioner Gary Brinn ran in the Washington Daily News, stating that PCC communications instructor Ken Robol had violated PCC policy by being paid by political candidates “to engage in website development, social media, and using students to hand out political literature (for extra academic credit).”

Robol is working with two candidates: Republican county commissioner candidate Derik Davis and Republican N.C. House District 6 candidate Beverly Boswell.

Brinn, a Republican, is also up for reelection this year. Commissioners Hood Richardson, Davis, Jerry Evans and Brinn — listed in order of votes tallied in the March 15 primary — will run against Democratic candidates Robert Belcher, Jerry Langley and Greg Satterthwaite in November.

PCC officials responded to Brinn’s letter, quoting the school’s policy that employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities while being compensated by the college, and also prohibited from using school, and state, resources to support candidates.

In an article printed last week in Greenville’s Daily Reflector, PCC vice president of institutional advancement Susan Nobles responded to Brinn’s allegations, saying that Robol’s freelance work for the two candidates did not happen on PCC time or using PCC resources, and was not in conflict with his full-time employment with the school.

“You know, those facts are not indisputable,” Brinn said in response.Brinn said he still believes that both taxpayer dollars and community college students were used — the first in website creation; the second, to distribute political literature supporting Davis.

A source familiar with the campaign said they were high school students paid by the Davis campaign.

“I feel like the official response from Pitt Community College stands on its own and there’s no need for me to editorialize on it. That’s the official response and there’s no need for any further comment,” Davis said.

Robol said he never thought he would become an issue in this election.

“The people of Beaufort County spoke about Gary Brinn in the recent election (primary) and that’s about it. The election should not be about me,” Robol said.