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Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Community college settles with instructor

August 10, 2006

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— Barton County Community College has settled a lawsuit with a former journalism instructor who alleged she lost her job over the student newspaper's coverage of an athletic department scandal in which eight people have been convicted.

Jennifer Schartz said she will receive $130,000 under Wednesday's settlement of her federal lawsuit. She had also sought reinstatement plus a grant of tenure at the Great Bend school.

Schartz spent three years as a nontenured, part-time instructor and adviser to the student newspaper before the school's trustees voted in April 2004 against renewing her contract, despite recommendations from her supervisors and then-president Veldon Law.

In her lawsuit, Schartz claimed she was dismissed in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights as a faculty adviser, for supporting the rights of her students and for refusing to censor the content of the student newspaper.

College officials said they were not required to explain the dismissal of a nontenured employee. They also argued the school and its personnel were immune under Kansas law from the damages sought by Schartz.

Allen Glendenning, the school's attorney in the case, said Wednesday that Schartz had lowered her demands to a point where it made more sense to settle than to continue the litigation.

Schartz was the adviser to the campus newspaper when it ran stories on what was then an internal investigation into academic misconduct involving coaches and athletes.

Seven former coaches and the former athletic director were indicted on federal charges that included using work-study and campus employment programs to pay athletes for work they didn't do, and falsifying athletes' academic records.

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