Al Heggins has been terminated as human relations director by the city of High Point.
Heggins received a letter yesterday from the city informing her that she had been terminated effective Oct. 1, but would have the opportunity to appeal the decision, said Jason Yates, a member of the human relations commission. Yates said he learned of the development through an exchange of texts with Heggins.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” Yates said. “I hate it for her personally, but I really hate it for the citizens of High Point. She had some really innovative programs, especially for young people, and I think the city’s going to be worse off for not having her.”
Heggins came into conflict with the High Point Police Department when officers took offense to a series of public forums organized by the human relations commission to discuss police-community relations. Heggins has had a discrimination complaint against the city on file with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since May, and in June she was placed on leave by City Manager Greg Demko.
Reginald Alston, a lawyer in Winston-Salem who represents Heggins, confirmed that his client has been terminated and said she plans to appeal the decision.
The city council voted unanimously to revamp the human relations commission, reducing it from 13 to nine members and dismissing the previous members in the process, in late August. Yates, who previously served as chair of the commission, was reappointed to the body by city council last night.
Yates said he doesn’t know if Program Director Tony Lowe, the only other employee in the department, will assume Heggins’ position, or if the human relations department will be folded into the city’s community relations department. City staff could not be reached for this story.