Support for SRU Students being sued by an ex-Prof.

I am an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Slippery Rock University (SRU).  Earlier this week I found out that one of my current students, A., along with M. and one additional student, are being sued through the Butler County court system by a former SRU Computer Science assistant professor for "defamation and conspiracy to defame."  As a result of this lawsuit, they are amassing significant legal fees; the retainer for A. alone is $5,000, which is not likely to cover all of the costs he will eventually face during this lawsuit.

These three students were part of a group of 14 out of 25 students in one of the courses taught by the assistant professor.  They filed a formal complaint against the professor to the dean of the College of Health, Engineering and Science of SRU last year due to their frustration with that assistant professor's teaching practices. SRU ultimately decided not to renew this instructor's contract, so the instructor is suing for damages and his lost salary.

The students did file a complaint and included documentation and evidence in the complaint, but they have no decision-making authority at SRU. The students followed the appropriate grievance procedure for registering their complaints; in the end, it was up to the administration to judge the merit of those complaints. The decision to not renew the contract was made by SRU administration. 

As a tenure-track assistant professor at SRU, I know it is extremely rare for a tenure track professor's contract to not be renewed between the first and second year. I also have had A. in my classes and have no reason to believe that he would file a complaint frivolously.  I am very concerned about the level of stress this is placing on him and the other named students in the complaint. SRU is a state college that attracts students from lower-middle and middle-class families; the cost of this lawsuit will not be easy for A.'s family to bear.

Please consider making a donation to help with A. and M.'s court fees. As a third party, I will make sure the money goes directly to the lawyers representing these two young people. I have also reviewed both the complaint filed against the former assistant professor and the paperwork regarding the lawsuit. I am not attaching them here to protect the privacy of the students, but I can answer further questions about the details regarding the lawsuit to the best of my ability. Please note that a previous attempt to file this lawsuit through the federal court system was revoked; this is a second lawsuit.

Thank you for any help you can provide.


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Jana Asher 
Slippery Rock, PA
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