Former professor sues CLC, claims emails led to firing
A former professor has sued College of Lake County in federal court, claiming he was dismissed, in part, because of emails he sent to school employees and students that administrators didn't like.
Barry A. Rose, a semiretired lawyer from Grayslake, is seeking to be returned to his part-time adjunct professor post and back pay as part of the complaint he filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
"I loved it," Rose said of his tenure as a CLC paralegal studies instructor from 2007 until his dismissal in January. "I've taught more than 20 years of my life."
College of Lake County spokeswoman Diane Rarick said school officials can't comment on pending litigation.
In the lawsuit, Rose alleges his concern about faculty evaluation methods for the paralegal program led to his firing. The suit says he first brought up the issue in 2011 and offered to help change how evaluations were done.
Rose wrote emails relaying concern in 2015, with one urging that only instructors with the most experience and knowledge be offered the opportunities to teach in their areas of concentration, according to the suit.
Another email that may have been viewed unfavorably, Rose contends, was his response to a May 2015 request sent by a CLC English professor that sought recommendations on students to serve as writing tutors.
"I do not have any students this semester who have the requisite writing skills to be tutors," Rose wrote. "However, I would like to offer my services. I am a 63-year-old, semiretired attorney who has almost 40 years of legal writing experience. In addition, I was a history major in college, and all my tests were essays, so I have a great deal of writing experience."
His complaint claims he was fired "for allegedly writing emails to faculty and students at CLC in 2015 to which the college administration objected." The suit contends the school violated his First Amendment right to free speech.
Rose also contends in the federal lawsuit his right to due process was violated because he never received a formal hearing to present evidence in an effort to oppose his firing. CLC Provost Richard Haney, who's named in the suit, conducted interviews only in an investigation before the termination, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, which includes CLC's law firm as a defendant, says Rose received the school's Outstanding Faculty of the Year award for the 2010-11 academic season.