Non-renewal of contract blamed on race

A former USF employee has filed a legal complaint against a top administrator, according to court documents.

James Dragna, former senior associate vice president of student affairs, filed a complaint with the Hillsborough County Circuit Court on Friday against USF. The complaint stated that his former boss, Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall, used considerations of race when determining not to renew his contract. Dragna was second in command to Meningall before his contract ended in October.

“The Plaintiff’s (Dragna’s), race, Caucasian, was a motivating factor in the Defendant’s (Meningall’s) decision to terminate his employment,” said the complaint. Meningall is black.

In the complaint, Dragna asked for damages, compensation for lost pay, and the University to “reinstate (him) to his former or to a like position.” The complaint also outlined that Dragna “has suffered, and continues to suffer, embarrassment, mental anguish and emotional distress.”

Dragna was told in July that his contract, which ended in October, would not be renewed.

In October, Dragna sent an e-mail to 80 University officials, including President Judy Genshaft, claiming that Meningall had misallocated funds and mistreated employees.

Two investigations were conducted – one by the University Office of Audit and Compliance (UAC) and another by the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (DEO) – and both disproved the allegations. The UAC report concluded that Meningall did not mishandle University funds. The DEO report found that she did not violate USF’s diversity policy, but said she needed additional training to handle her job professionally.

Vice President of Communications Michael Hoad said the University would not comment on the litigation.

Dragna’s lawyer, Robert McKee, could not be reached for comment at press time.