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Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Barton college president says he didn’t seek firing of journalism instructor

May 26, 2005

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— The president of Barton County Community College said in a court affidavit that he did not seek the dismissal of the college's journalism instructor, whose termination has led to a lawsuit and an investigation by a national journalism group.

Barton County President Veldon Law said he recommended last year that the college's governing board renew Jennifer Schartz's contract, according to a sworn affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

Instead, the college's six-member Board of Trustees decided not to renew Schartz's contract, effectively firing her. Schartz had taught at the school for three years and was up for tenure when dismissed.

Law's statement was included in a filing by Great Bend attorney Alan Glendenning, the college's lawyer in the case, who is asking that Law be removed as a defendant.

In separate filings, Glendenning also asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit. If the case proceeds, he wants the court to hold the trial in U.S. District Court in Wichita. When Schartz filed her lawsuit April 1, her attorneys asked that the trial take place in Kansas City, Kan.

In her lawsuit, Schartz alleges that Law, the board of trustees, and the college's regular attorney, Randy Henry, all were involved in her dismissal.

She contends her dismissal was in retaliation for the content she allowed her students to publish in the campus newspaper, The Interrobang, including stories about an internal investigation into academic misconduct involving coaches and athletes.

Schartz said the dismissal violated her and her students' constitutional rights to free expression. She is seeking reinstatement with full seniority, tenure and actual and punitive damages.

College officials have said they do not need to explain why Schartz was dismissed because she was not a tenured employee. And they contend that Kansas law makes them and the college immune from the damage Schartz is seeking.

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