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More troubles for Kennesaw

Kennesaw State University has received another letter from a lawyer who claims his client, former professor Bari Levingston, was slandered and libeled by administrators in a website response to a February article in CL that dealt with allegations of anti-Semitism at the school. ?

Attorney Craig Frankel on March 8 demanded KSU cease publishing false and defamatory statements about Levingston — essentially the same statements made by the school in response to her lawsuit four years ago.?

Also, CL has obtained documents that show relations between KSU and the Jewish community became so strained that Gov. Roy Barnes was forced to intervene in 1999. An April 1999 e-mail from Barnes to then-university system Chancellor Steve Portch recounted that members of the American Jewish Committee told the governor they were concerned there were insufficient procedures to investigate alleged religious discrimination at KSU, and they complained that Portch wouldn't meet with them. Barnes' e-mail also said the group's members "did not think that [KSU President] Betty Siegel was in sufficient control" of the university to stop retaliatory actions.?

It is such allegations of retaliation that prompted Levingston's letter and, a few days earlier, a similar letter from former Communications Chair Candace Kaspers, who was fired from her post after protesting the firing of the only Jewish professors in her department. ?

Kaspers won $750,000 and Levingston settled for $150,000 from the university.?

The documents obtained by CL also show that expensive litigation with Professor Paul Lapides — portions of whose case were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court last month — were near resolution following mediation in October 1999. According to a March 2, 2000, memo from Board of Regents lawyer Elizabeth Neely, "only a few more hours of work was necessary to resolve the outstanding issue." However, rather than finish the mediation, KSU Vice President Ed Rugg took the expensive step of abruptly calling off the mediation.?

Also, similar to CL's report that Siegel said she was not informed of many details in the Lapides case, an August 1997 memo from Neely to Portch indicates that the chancellor had not been kept advised of important developments in the Kaspers litigation.




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