Former law school dean sues University of Texas for loss of tenure

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Former law school dean sues University of Texas for loss of tenure

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Alleging that she was stripped of her post without cause and denied due process, the former dean of law school at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law has filed a lawsuit federal against the historically black college.

The lawsuit, filed by Joan Bullock Sept. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction to restrain the university from firing Bullock and reinstate her as a tenured member of the body. professorial. He alleges violations of due process, breach of contract and retaliation.

In June, Bullock was told the university was “going in a different direction,” according to the complaint, and presented with a written termination agreement that she refused to sign on the grounds that she had been hired as a tenured faculty member. The complaint also alleges that Bullock inherited significant issues when she began the position of dean in 2019 and was barred from hiring essential staff for ABA-accredited law schools.

Bullock is the law school’s first female dean, according to the complaint. The complaint claims that some of the men who preceded her “left the post of dean under a legal and ethical cloud”, but all of them remained on the faculty after leaving their post of dean.

Texas Southern University is a public university, and the state constitution provides tenured professors with significant protections, Dorian Vandenberg-Rodes, Bullock’s attorney, told the ABA Journal in an email.

“He cannot apply different rules or standards to certain faculty tenure or make up the rules as he goes along,” Vandenberg-Rodes wrote.

The university did not immediately respond to a Journal interview request.

Shortly after Bullock was hired as dean in 2019, she fired the law school’s associate dean of admissions, according to the court filing. Edward Rene, identified by the Houston Chronicle as the former Dean of Law School Admissions, was charged with theft in 2020.

Two students told the FBI they received scholarships for more money than expected, and Rene ordered them to repay the excess amounts in the form of checks, cashiers checks or money orders made out to him, according to a August 2020 Criminal Complaint filed against him by the District Attorney for Harris County, Texas.

Rene’s case remains open, according to court records.

Bullock’s complaint claims that after firing Rene, she hired a consultant to assess the law school’s admissions department, and the investigation led to the university firing of Austin Lane, its president.

Under Bullock’s direction, according to the filing, the law school’s admissions department moved to a paperless application system and required that all applications be submitted through the Law School Admission Council portal. In addition, she led the university’s information technology department to create an online portal for seat deposits, which prevented admissions staff from receiving money.

The school has a history of public accreditation notices. In 2017, he received a public censure from the ABA’s Legal Education and Bar Admissions Section. This involved failure to comply with Standard 104, which deals with the information law schools provide to the board, and the equal opportunity provisions detailed in Standard 205(b). The finding follows a federal discrimination lawsuit filed against the school by an associate dean. According to a 2017 dismissal order, the claims have been settled.

Also in 2017, the law school was found to be non-compliant with the 301(a) and 309(b) standards, which address academic programs and support, and the admissions provisions detailed in the 501 standard.

The board found in 2020 that the law school had become up to standard, according to a 2020 press release from Texas Southern University.

Bullock’s complaint claims that before she was dean, the law school had not obtained an LSAC study to predict student performance for several years. Most law schools get annual studies, according to the complaint. And as dean, she asked the admissions department to provide data for a three-year LSAC study focused on how freshmen performed and the predictive value of their objective credentials when applying to law school.

Additionally, according to the complaint, the at-risk students were not informed of their status before Bullock began the position, nor were they placed on probation. She implemented a formal notification program, created a tutoring program for freshmen, and required 2L at-risk students to take vocational training courses.

The TaxProg Blog too has a blanket of Bullock’s complaint.

Jon J. Epps