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Trade school fires president after he gave homeless student shelter in library during sub-zero weather

Posted: 11:39 AM, Jan 17, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-17 11:40:42-05

LIBERTY, Mo. — The former campus president of a Kansas City trade school said he was fired for offering a homeless student  shelter from dangerously cold weather .

Brian Carroll, campus president at Vatterott College in Kansas City, said one of his students had no place to go.

So on Jan. 6, with overnight temperatures dipping to a life-threatening -4 degrees, Carroll allowed the student, who is homeless and has schizophrenia, to sleep overnight in the school's library.

That was a Friday. On the following Monday, the next business day, Caroll was fired.

"Education is a beautiful thing to me," Carroll, who has been with the school for five years, told FOX 4 News. "But sometimes, it gets destroyed in the process."

Carroll said the student had been sleeping in a wooded area near the school, but temperatures were too harsh that night, and the student had nowhere to seek warmth.

"I just didn't want to take the chance," Carroll said. "We had ice and snow."

"I had a tough choice to make. He can't stay on campus. I can't put him in my car. I can't take him to my house."

Carroll said the student had run out of his medication. He allowed the student to bed down in the school's library. Though the student didn't steal or damage anything, Carroll was fired once the school's St. Louis-based management team found out by viewing surveillance cameras remotely.

Carroll has worked in education for 35 years and said he knows he took a risk.

"I made a choice. I was choosing between life -- I'm not from here. I'm from Southern California. I'm not sure if I could live in the woods at -2 degrees," Carroll said.

Carroll said he and others around the campus have been trying to help the student find subsidized housing.

He suspects the decision to fire him came down to money and putting Vatterott's equipment and building at risk.

"I don't know of a direct written policy that says you can't keep someone overnight. There's a policy that says I must protect the assets. I did," Carroll said.

"My first reaction was, shouldn't you just write me up for this? Their answer was no."

Vatterott College spokeswoman Julie Bishop-Cross told FOX 4 News the school's policy is not to comment on personnel matters.

Carroll said he hasn't heard from the student in question, but if faced with it, he'd make the same choice again.