Wichita — The University of Kansas is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit by a former professor who claims its School of Medicine retaliated for his assertion that the university misappropriated federal research grants.
The university and the Kansas Board of Regents argued in court filings Wednesday that they are protected from lawsuit under sovereign immunity. The university also contended that professor Curtis Klaassen failed to exhaust administrative remedies before suing.
KU's School of Medicine is seeking to be dismissed because it's not a separate legal entity.
Klaassen alleges in a lawsuit filed last year that the school stripped him of his position as principal investigator on research projects. He also contends KUMC fired most of his research assistants and killed important genetically modified laboratory mice used for research.
Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, a KU associate professor of aerospace engineering and the president of the Kansas conference of the American Association of University Professors, wouldn't comment on the court filing but said the Kansas AAUP has been following Klaassen's case closely.
"We object to the restriction of academic freedom of all professors if it occurs. This case is troubling in many ways," Barrett-Gonzalez said. If the Kansas AAUP determines Klaassen's academic freedom was violated, it would likely send the matter up to the national organization, which could opt to censure or issue sanctions against the university.