A former campus president of a Missouri college was fired after he allowed a homeless student to stay overnight at school during a winter storm, offering him a place to sleep when he learned the young man planned to stay outside on a night expected to dip into negative temperatures, he told InsideEdition.com.
Brian Carroll was locking up the Kansas City location of Vatterott College for the night on Friday, January 6 when he realized he wasn’t alone in the building.
“I could hear someone talking to himself, and then I saw it was one of our students,” Carroll told InsideEdition.com.
The young man has schizophrenia and is inherently weary of the government and filling out forms, so finding housing had been difficult, Carroll said.
“I know the student… so I said, ‘Where are you staying?’ and he said, ‘I’m living out in the woods in a sleeping bag,'” he said. “I said, ‘It’s -2 degrees tonight,’ and he said, ‘That’s where I stay.'”
The student admitted he was not on his medication, as he was unable to afford the prescription, which added to his plight, Carroll said.
“He said he needed $6 for the deductible, so I gave him $10 and said ‘I’ll let you sleep in the library in front of the furnace… you can take a shower if you’d like. But at 9 a.m. you need to be on the bus to get your medication,'” Carroll recalled. “This guy does what he said he will do. If he tells you he’s going to do something, he does it. So he said okay, and on Monday he was back in class, not talking to himself.”
Carroll said school officials confronted him on Monday, January 9, about his decision and after he admitted to allowing the student to remain in the building, he was fired.
“I told them the truth… I said, ‘I really didn’t have any other options.’ They said I did and I said, ‘Really? Let’s go through the other options,'” he said.
Carroll said school authorities told him that while he was also not allowed to let the student into his vehicle or bring him to his home, he could’ve gotten the man a hotel room.
“If I went out and bought a hotel [room], with my own money, mind you, I’d have to put him outside in the cold, leave him there, come back and tell him to walk to that hotel I’d have found,” Carroll said. “If I had to do it over again… I still would’ve gotten fired, because I would’ve gotten him a hotel but I would’ve let him get into my car to take him there.”
Carroll said he pleaded with authorities to reconsider, arguing that his offense wasn’t fire-able and that in the more than five years he had served as campus president at Vatterott College’s Kansas City location, he had never gotten into trouble.
“You’d think they’d give me a little break. I said, ‘Why don’t you write me up?’ and they said, ‘No, it was too serious,'” Carroll said, noting that authorities told him he put the school’s equipment and building at risk of being damaged or stolen.
“But nothing happened… There’s no exact written policy that you can’t keep someone overnight. It was a calculated risk,” he said. “To me, minus two degrees was a life-threatening situation for the student.”
The overnight temperatures in that location hit four degrees below zero, records show.
Carroll has not spoken with the student since their fateful run-in, and he’s unsure if the man knows what happened.
Since his termination, Carroll has received an onslaught of support and encouragement, which he said has helped in preparing to box up his things and make the 25-hour drive home to California, where his wife and family live full-time.
“He’s been an educator for a long time… It’s been a journey that took him away from home,” his wife, Dawn Carroll, told InsideEdition.com. “He followed his passion and provided for the family, and the sacrifices made paid off. But at least the blessing here is that he’s going to come home.”
Though the prospect of searching for a new job is daunting, Carroll said he would do it all over again.
Thinking back to his days in the United States Marine Corps, Carrol said: “They taught us to obey lawful orders, not all orders … you need to call on your judgement and experience, draw on it all, and make the right decision. You’ve just got to go on your gut about this.”
Vatterott College has not responded to InsideEdition.com’s request for comment, but the College’s spokesperson, Julie Bishop-Cross, told WDAF the school’s policy is not to comment on personnel matters.