Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

La Verne Law School Seeks To Terminate 'Gadfly' Tenured Prof For Threatening To 'Assassinate' A Colleague

Following up on my previous post, La Verne Foregoes ABA Accreditation, To Continue As California-Accredited Law School:  Inside Higher Ed, When a 'Threat' Derails a Career:

La Verne seeks to terminate a gadfly professor for allegedly threatening to "assassinate" a colleague. Is it going too far?

KleinDiane Klein saw the writing on the wall in 2016: the University of La Verne, where she works as a professor of law, was going to either close the law school or dramatically change the way it did business. Wanting to give the program and its tenured professors a fighting chance, she joined the university’s Faculty Handbook revision committee. Her immediate focus was shaping how La Verne would terminate tenured faculty members, if it came to that.

Fast-forward four years and the law school is still open, with plans to transition to California Bar Association backing from the more stringent American Bar Association accreditation. The reason for the change, among others, is that La Verne has struggled to meet ABA standards for bar exam passage rates. But Klein’s tenured job is still on the line, not due to any program closure, but because she stands accused of threatening the life of a colleague.

Any institution must take violent threats seriously, especially in an era of mass shootings. But Klein and her supporters believe that the case against her stretches the term threat into absurdity: following a separate ad hoc committee meeting about the future of the law school, in November, Klein verbally told a third professor that the group would have to decide if it wanted to “assassinate” Jendayi Saada, assistant dean at La Verne’s Center for Academic and Bar Readiness, if the law school were to survive. Klein allegedly also said that she, for one, was willing to "assassinate" Saada.

Klein has made professional enemies because she is outspoken. And she was already in hot water with her administration because, in her capacity as president of La Verne's American Association of University Professors chapter, she'd helped a group of education professors discuss a tenure case in their college. In that incident, administrators charged Klein — and not anyone else involved — with violating the confidentiality surrounding tenure decisions.

In other strikes against her, Klein is a stickler for details and procedure, including when it comes to shared governance — something that may be difficult for her peers to understand. Still, she's not a criminal and thought that her “assassination” remark was private.

It was not. The comment made its way back to a Saada at the bar readiness center, and, in December, Klein was suspended, escorted off campus, and subject to a strict no-contact order regarding students and employees. Klein was notified that Saada also sought to pursue a restraining order against her, but that case was apparently dropped when Saada did not appear at the hearing. ...

[Klein sais] La Verne’s law program is transitioning to the California Bar program and the university will be laying off faculty members. So while Klein worked hard to make sure that process would be fair to those with tenure, it will probably work against her, as long as she's operating in an informational vacuum. That's if she doesn’t get terminated for cause first. ...

La Verne Faculty for the Restoration of Diane Klein's Shared Governance Rights:

On December 20, 2019, Prof. Diane Klein, a full tenured professor at the University of La Verne College of Law, was placed on administrative leave and prohibited from any communication with our "University staff/faculty," indefinitely.

Prof. Klein is the president of ULV's AAUP chapter; she is an elected Faculty Assembly Senator; she is an elected member of the Faculty Ad Hoc Committee convened by ULV in relation to the transition of the ULV COL from an ABA-accredited program to a Cal Bar program. She is also a member of a Faculty Senate Subcommittee charged with drafting a resolution in support of a pending vote of no-confidence in the administration of ULV, including President Lieberman. Prof. Klein is also the primary drafter of a key chapter of ULV's Faculty Handbook - a chapter which contains strong tenure-protective provisions, adopted unanimously by ULV's Board of Trustees, but currently under threat by administrative actions.

Prohibiting Prof. Klein from communicating with fellow faculty members, including chapter members and personal friends would be improper under any conditions of administrative leave. ...

We, the faculty of the University of La Verne, are united in our call upon the administration to reinstate Prof. Klein to her elected shared governance roles during the pendency of any investigation.

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