Morning Report: What it Takes to Fire a Professor

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Morning Report: What it Takes to Fire a Professor

CSU San Marcos Professor Chetan Kumar
CSU San Marcos students protest the university’s decision not to fire professor Chetan Kumar after officials found he had harassed four students. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

When Cal State San Marcos officials decided to walk back their decision to fire a professor who harassed several students, they wrote in a settlement agreement that the move was being made to “avoid the expense, inconvenience, and uncertainty of continued proceeding.”

Officials later clarified that they were also worried an arbitrator could void the decision.

The process, and all of the time and costs involved, scared them into reversing the firing – an outcome familiar to anyone who’s followed teacher misconduct and accountability stories.

In a new piece, VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez goes deep into just what that process entails. Often, schools are forced to choose between undesirable options: Depending on what route they take, they can face legal action from professors who feel they were unfairly disciplined, or from students who feel the school didn’t do enough to protect them.

Stakeholders told Jimenez there’s definitely room for improvement, “but any change is going to take a major overhaul of state law and university and union involvement in the process.”

The Race for Sheriff Is Already on

Just a few days after San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore announced he won’t run for re-election, a candidate to replace him has jumped in with some major endorsements behind her. 

Kelly Martinez, who became Gore’s second in command earlier this year – the first woman to hold the role – announced Monday she’s running and has the backing of notable elected officials like state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and … Gore himself.

That Gore endorsement was a surprise, since he just told the Union-Tribune that he doesn’t plan to talk about who he’s supporting.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of good candidates and I don’t want to get ahead of anybody,” he told the paper.

There were other notable moments in Gore’s interview with the U-T. He discussed some of the major public safety and racial justice issues that have dominated the news over the last year. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, SDPD announced it would end the use of the carotid restraint, something advocates had long sought. But Gore defended the maneuver and insisted it was useful. He told the U-T he only relented and agreed to ban it because he saw it as inevitable, not because he thought it was the right thing to do.

He also pushed back against the Union-Tribune’s long-running investigative series revealing the mortality rate in San Diego jails was the highest among large counties in the state. He said he disagrees with the paper’s methodology.

State data has shown that the Sheriff’s Department under Gore has stopped and searched Black drivers more often than any other race, even though officers find contraband on them less often.

The Center for Policing Equity is analyzing the Sheriff’s Department’s stop data but it’s not clear when the group’s report will be made public.

Video Shows Officers Shooting Suspect in the Back

When SDPD announced last week that officers had shot and killed a man in the Talmadge neighborhood, its description of the encounter was passive, making it hard to discern what happened: “He was eventually confronted behind a fast-food restaurant and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” an SDPD communications official wrote.

Video released by the department Monday makes it much clearer. At least three officers chased the man, who fled a vehicle suspected to be involved in a shooting that happened earlier that night on University Avenue. The man was carrying a gun, and appears to be kneeling down on the ground with his back turned before at least one officer shot him in the back. 

The video is heavily edited and curated with explanations justifying the officers’ actions – see this great CBS8 article explaining why police shooting videos are this way.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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