December 30, 2002
Gary Stivers, Executive Director
Idaho State Board of Education
650 West State Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Dear Mr. Stivers:
I am writing you on behalf of the Higher Education Council of the Idaho Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. We are very concerned about the new dismissal policy that you endorsed at your October, 2002 meeting. (This is found in Section III.G.8 and III.G.9 of your Governing Policies and Procedures.) We are particularly concerned about the lack of faculty consultation in the decision to close programs. We are also distressed about the lack of due process for faculty who appeal their termination under 9.b.2.d. We encourage you to resolve the jumbled syntax of the second sentence: “The sole basis to contest a dismissal following a program closure is in compliance with these policies.” We believe that this means that appellants may only appeal the fact that they have been terminated, but the meaning of the sentence is simply not clear. Our interpretation is that faculty essentially have no due process at all at 9.b.2.d. In sum this policy undermines the rights of tenured faculty.
We urge the SBOE to reconsider this policy and make the fact finding and appeal process at least equal to the policy on financial exigency. We are in possession of correspondence that your office had with the American Association of University Professors on the last revision of the exigency policy in 2002. Jordan Kurland, AAUP Associate General Secretary, gave his general blessing to that revised policy, but we are confident that he would not be so happy with the new dismissal policy for discontinued programs. Mr. Kurland negotiated the removal of AAUP censure from the University of Idaho in 1988-89 after he was satisfied that SBOE policies were consistent with AAUP principles. We firmly believe that the AAUP will find the new dismissals policy at odds with its guidelines on tenure and academic freedom.
In addition to a copy to the AAUP, we are sending additional copies of this letter to the university and college presidents as well as the respective faculty representatives. We are urging the latter to pass resolutions rejecting this policy as inconsistent with just cause and due process. We will also recommend that faculty appeal boards reject any termination they consider under this policy. No faculty member should be party to the removal of the legal protection that tenure provides.
Recently the dean of the UI College of Engineering attempted to fire three tenured professors using this policy. It is now our understanding that these dismissals have been rescinded. (Many UI faculty are shocked at the unnecessary emotional injury that such a hasty decision caused.) IFT legal and moral support allowed Lois Pace and seven other faculty members to win over one million dollars in settlements from the financial exigency of 1981, which led to the AAUP censure. We stand ready to offer support to any faculty member dismissed under this new policy.
Nicholas F. Gier, IFT President