The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is reversing course on its decision to terminate one of its employees.
Chancellor Joe Gow said late Wednesday that UW System legal counsel recommended the campus offer Kimberly Dearman her position back as a dispatcher at the UW-L Police Department. Dearman was terminated on Monday after an investigation by UW-L, which Gow said did not follow all of the due process requirements.
Gow said the offer of reinstatement had been sent to Dearman and her lawyer, who he said were still mulling it over. Neither Dearman nor her lawyer was available for comment Wednesday night.
“We should have investigated more fully,” he said. “We should have had a hearing. We were wrong on that.”
In a letter sent Tuesday to the UW System Board of Regents, Kimberly Dearman’s lawyer, Lee Fehr of Onalaska, said his client had been fired for speech she made in support of President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Fehr’s letter said the comments were spurred by a Jan. 30 email Gow sent to faculty, students and staff rebuking the move by the president.
Gow denied Dearman was fired for her politics, and shared more details of the incident. According to Gow, officials received a complaint that Dearman had told a student of Asian descent that the student’s people should go back to where they came from.
According to a letter sent to Dearman from UW-L Human Resources Director Madeline Holzem on Monday, Dearman was given the option to resign or be terminated. According to the letter, Dearman was investigated after a complaint from a coworker and found to have violated university employee policies against unbecoming conduct and threatening or abusive language.
Gow said any future decision to terminate any university employee would have to be reviewed by his office.
“As we’ve seen with this incident, people will ask questions,” Gow said. “I need to be fully informed we are doing the right thing.”