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UW-La Crosse chancellor defends employee firing, reinstatement

By   /   March 16, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

MADISON, Wis. –What’s next for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse employee who was fired after voicing her support for President Donald Trump’s immigration policies?

UW-La Crosse dispatcher Kimberly Dearman was reinstated late Wednesday after being fired earlier in the week.

Photo by WPR.org

RADIO DEBATE: UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow appeared on the Mark Belling Show on NewsTalk 1130 WISN Thursday. He defended his institution’s decision to fire and then reinstate an employee who expressed support for President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

Dearman’s attorney, Lee Fehr, said his client has not decided what her next move will be. As of Thursday afternoon, Dearman had not decided whether she would return to her job.

“We feel the university has created a kind of hostile environment for her, especially now that we have heard that (UW-La Crosse) Chancellor (Joe) Gow has said she has made racist remarks and apparently is not a quality employee.”

Gow earlier in the day told Wisconsin Watchdog that Dearman was fired because she made “racist” comments to a fellow employee. According to Fehr’s letter to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, “Dearman stated to a coworker that she felt Trump was put in a bad situation. She felt Trump was doing the correct thing by keeping terrorists out of the United States. She felt that those immigrants should go back where they came from.”

Dearman was commenting on emails critical of Trump’s policies that Gow in late January and early February sent to students, faculty and staff.

RELATED: UW-La Crosse backs down after firing employee for supporting Trump policy

Gow said the university, on the advice of a UW System attorney, decided to reinstate the employee because “our people made a mistake” in only noting Dearman’s comments about Trump and immigrants in the termination letter.  Dearman, according to Gow, had “other performance issues” in her personnel file. He could not provide specifics.

“This racist statement was kind of the final act. This person is not a quality employee,” the chancellor said.

Fehr said there is no lawsuit pending, that his client would like to “work things out” with the university.

“I think the University System itself has to answer a lot of questions about what these policies mean, because they are vague. Anybody can be fired for any reason, as was the case here, and, frankly, if we wouldn’t have brought it to your attention Ms. Dearman would be on the street.”

Gow and Fehr spoke to Wisconsin Watchdog Thursday on the Mark Belling show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN in Milwaukee.

Listen to the entire interview here.

M.D. Kittle is bureau chief for Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment reporter for Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.