Former Texas Southern University professor says he was denied tenure after reporting misallocation of funds

Kelly Holleran Aug. 13, 2014, 2:55pm

A former Texas Southern University professor has filed suit against the college, saying he was denied tenure and lost his job after he reported the alleged misallocation of federal funds.

Dr. Charles Glass filed suit July 25 in the Houston Division of the U.S. District Court of Southern District Texas against John M. Rudley, Lei Yu, David Olowokere, Sunny Ohia, James W. Ward and the members of the Board of Regents of Texas Southern University.

In his lawsuit, Glass alleges he lost his teaching position at Texas Southern University after he uncovered fraud and the misuse of federal Title III funds and reported his findings to college officials.  By denying Dr. Glass tenure and promotion, and terminating his teaching position, the defendants have trampled his First Amendment right to free speech and the right to be free from retaliation, as well as denying him the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, the suit states.

Glass was fully credentialed to teach at the university, having begun his career with the U.S. Navy, then working as a power plants and corrosion control officer, an air intelligence officer, a naval flight instructor, a student control officer, a commercial pilot and a teacher for the Houston Independent School District, the complaint says. In 1986, Glass claims he went on to aid in establishing the aviation program at Texas Southern University and eventually joined the program in 2006 as an assistant professor.

When Glass discovered that federal Title III funds allocated toward airway science equipment maintenance and upgrades were not being properly dispersed, he reported the incident, according to the complaint.

In 2009, Dr. Glass discovered that Dr. Yu, then head of the Transportation Studies Department, which housed the Avaiation Program, was siphoning funds from this grant to support foreign exchange students working on pet projects that did not pertain in any manner to airway science equipment maintenance and goggles, the suit states. Specifically, Dr. Glass discovered Dr. Yu had spent $41,397.84 and encumbered $120,075 of Title III money as of Jan. 31, 2009, that was supposed to be earmarked for airway science equipment maintenance and upgrades.

Glass felt the funds could hugely benefit the program if they were allocated correctly. He reported on the misuse of the money twice, according to the complaint. Still, the university never investigated Glass's findings, the suit states. Instead, administrators removed Glass from Yu's supervision and named him interim chair of the new aviation department, the complaint says.

Yu began to publicly criticize Glass and recommended he be replaced with Dr. Mark Sherman, the suit states. Glass contends Yu was attempting to retaliate against him for his reporting of the Title III funds.

In October of 2012, Glass submitted an application for tenure with TSU. However, he was denied tenure despite his long record of service, which most recently included the year-long restoration of the aviation building after Hurricane Ike, the complaint says.

Glass appealed the denial of his tenure and was approved for tenure and promotion by the University Tenure and Promotion Appeals Committee, he claims. Still, the college ignored the recommendation and instead terminated his employment May 31, 2014, according to the complaint.

Due to his job loss, Glass suffered humiliation, a loss of reputation and damages to his eyesight caused by the stress of losing his position, the suit states.

Glass claims university officials retaliated against him after he utilized his First Amendment rights.

He seeks a declaratory judgment stating that the school violated his right to free speech and to due process. He also is seeking injunctive relief, punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

He is being represented by attorney Joshua W. Carden of Davis, Miles, McGuire and Gardner in Irving.

U.S. District Court of Southern District Texas case number: 4:14-cv-02142

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court of Southern District Texas. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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