Ariz. math professor returns to classroom

Thursday, September 20, 2007

An Arizona professor who faced possible termination for an e-mail he sent last November has returned to the classroom.

The Maricopa Community College District announced recently that it had reached an agreement with Walter Kehowski. The Glendale Community College math professor sent an e-mail in 2006 to district employees with a link to conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan’s Web site and a transcript of George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving proclamation.

As part of the June 25 agreement, the suburban Phoenix college will restrict Kehowski’s future use of the district e-mail system.

Kehowski was placed on paid leave in March, after school administrators found he had used the district’s e-mail system for private or personal matters, violating the district’s electronic-communications policy.

Several employees filed complaints about the Nov. 22 e-mail, saying the Buchanan site contained criticisms of immigration policies.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national free-speech group, led a campaign backing Kehowski.

“This settlement is a crucial victory for freedom of expression and fundamental fairness,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “FIRE is pleased that MCCCD’s unjust treatment of Kehowski has finally ceased and that he will now be able to resume his life and his teaching.”

Both sides are prohibited from discussing the settlement details because of a confidentiality agreement, but Lukianoff said Kehowski was pleased with the outcome.

Lydia Hailman King is a University of Mississippi graduate with degrees in journalism, international studies and French.

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