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FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2007

Auburn professor in grade probe sues school over nonpayment

AUBURN (AP) — An Auburn University professor who was suspended with pay in December during an investigation into grading irregularities has sued the school for dropping him from the payroll.

Thomas Petee took legal action after university officials told his lawyer, Davis Whittelsey, that they would no longer pay the sociology professor while he was suspended pending the conclusion of dismissal procedures against him.

Petee had been receiving regular payments since he was suspended at the conclusion of the fall semester. His suit filed Wednesday in Lee County circuit court says the direct deposits stopped May 31, and asks the court to order them resumed and Petee repaid for the missed payments.

“It is our opinion that the university is unilaterally attempting to make Dr. Petee quietly go away,” he said.

AU officials contend Petee should only be paid for the fall and spring semesters.

The school’s Faculty Dismissal Inquiry Committee reviewed accusations that Petee, a tenured professor of criminology, issued high grades to students in directed reading courses for little or no work. Petee stepped down as department head after an internal investigation found that he exercised poor judgment.

Whittelsey said the dismissal inquiry panel found the university to be as much at fault as Petee and that the dismissal procedures should end. But Auburn President Ed Richardson overruled that decision, and Petee was told in February that the process would continue.

Petee’s lawyer also said the professor has not received “a statement of specific charges” and other documents required in dismissal procedures.

“They are doing this to get Dr. Petee to fold and we won’t fold,” Whittelsey said.


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News

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