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AAUP Addresses Case of Community College Teacher Removed after Facebook Posts

In August, Kirkwood Community College in Iowa removed adjunct instructor Jeff Klinzman from the classroom after a local TV station drew negative attention to his social media posts (some dating to 2012) supporting the Antifa movement and disparaging the president of the United States. According to Klinzman, a Kirkwood administrator told him that the college had been “inundated” with complaints and threats. President Lori Sundberg told a reporter that she had made the decision to remove Klinzman from the classroom for the “safety of the students” and others. Klinzman said that an administrator informed that he could either resign or be terminated from his position.

On September 13, the AAUP sent a letter to president Sundberg regarding Klinzman’s case. It read in part:

Your administration has never alleged that Mr. Klinzman's Facebook posts had any bearing on his professional fitness, even acknowledging, as quoted in the Gazette article, "There is no evidence that he espoused these views in class." The only stated basis for terminating his services was campus safety, clearly a legitimate concern, but one that could have been addressed by increasing security (which was done anyway), having him teach remotely, offering him the opportunity of a paid suspension, and so on.

Mr. Klinzman's dismissal was therefore not only effected without affordance of academic due process (or any process at all) but in apparent violation of widely accepted principles of academic freedom.

Download the full letter here

Publication Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2019