Independent Report of Teacher Suspensions Released By College
ACLU Says Suspensions Were Not Merited
Friday, November 13, 2009
An independent report finds three Southwestern College teachers placed on paid leave after a campus rally last month did play a role in escalating tensions during the demonstration. But free-speech groups say the teachers were acting within their rights.
SAN DIEGO An independent report finds three Southwestern College teachers placed on paid leave after a campus rally last month did play a role in escalating tensions during the demonstration. But free speech groups say the teachers were acting within their rights.
Southwestern College in Chula Vista hired an independent investigator several days after the Oct. 22 incident. Her report details how a campus rally about budget cuts turned into a raucous demonstration -- with teachers and students attempting to force their way into President's Raj Chopra's office building.
The university report concludes one of the teachers did incite students to move outside the college's "free speech zone." It found another teacher confronted police officers in a “threatening manner.”
But the local ACLU says the report's findings don’t merit the suspensions because the teachers were exercising their free speech rights.
The ACLU's Sean Riordan says his group is calling on Chopra to apologize and revise the college's free speech policy.
“Colleges and universities play a unique role in American public life,” Riordan says. “These are the areas where we send our young people to go and learn about civic society and becoming participatory citizens in the U.S.”
Meanwhile, a second national advocacy group is looking into the Southwestern controversy.
The American Association of University Professors based in Washington D.C. has opened up a case. The other national group is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Together they say Chopra may have violated the teachers' academic freedoms on campus.
All four teachers are now back at work. Southwestern students and some faculty are organizing a free speech rally later today.