Fired professor: Signing reinstatement doc would be like having 'gun pointed at my head'

Fired professor: Signing reinstatement doc would be like having 'gun pointed at my head'

(Michael Egbert, St. George News, File)


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ST. GEORGE — A Dixie State University music professor who was fired and subsequently recommended for reinstatement says a condition of his reinstatement would force him to sign an agreement that would prevent him from teaching in his specialized field and otherwise tightly restrict his ability to function as a faculty member.

"If I ever were to sign this, which I won’t, I would forever have a gun pointed at my head," Ken Peterson said, speaking metaphorically, in an interview with St. George News Monday.

A tenured professor of 16 years at DSU, Peterson was fired in early March for allegedly violating university policy regarding confidentiality and “slandering” the university president and others. He went through a monthslong appeals process that resulted in the Utah System of Higher Education recommending on July 10 that he get his job back.

Days after receiving the news of his pending reinstatement, he said the university presented him with a "Last Chance Agreement," a five-page document that lists 28 explicit conditions of his reemployment.

Peterson published the document in its entirety on social media Monday afternoon. In it, the university says Peterson has "demonstrated unprofessional/uncivil behavior towards DSU and its faculty, staff, and administration" and alleges that he displayed "inappropriate behavior toward DSU students."

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"The people who know me best are the people who find this document laughable," Peterson said. "People who don’t know me at all would think I’m a criminal after reading this."

As a result of his alleged behavior, the document says Peterson would have to teach general education courses.

"They told me I can’t do what I was hired to do anymore," he said, noting that all of his degrees are specialized in voice performance. "I would be teaching classes that I have not received an education to teach."

Part of his curriculum included providing private voice lessons, which he would be forbidden from doing under the agreement.

The document says the university "has lost confidence in Dr. Peterson’s ability to act professionally and appropriately, in unsupervised or secluded areas." The document also specifically says he shall not violate non-discrimination laws in his educational practice.

To read the full story, visit St. George News.

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