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UW-La Crosse Offers To Reinstate Dispatcher After An Error In Firing Process

Employee, Her Attorney, Say She Was Fired For Supporting Trump's Immigration Policy


The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is offering to reinstate a former employee who says she was fired for her political beliefs.

Kim Dearman was fired from the UW-La Crosse Police Department for “threatening or abusive language” and “conduct unbecoming of a university employee,” according to a termination letter dated Monday.

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow said UW System attorneys advised the university to reinstate Dearman as a police dispatcher after discovering university staff did not follow the proper termination procedure.

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Gow said UW System attorney said Dearman should have received a hearing, according to The Associated Press.

In response to initial allegations, Gow said Dearman was fired for poor job performance, calling claims that she was let go for voicing her political beliefs “sensationalistic” during an interview on Wednesday prior to Dearman being offered her job back.

On Thursday, Gow said Dearman was let go because she made a racist comment to a student employee.

“She said that ‘immigrants should go back to where they came from,’ and I think we all would agree that is a racist statement, that’s not acceptable and certainly not consistent with UW-L values,” Gow said.

Dearman’s attorney, Lee Fehr, sent a letter Tuesday to the UW System Board of Regents summarizing his client’s comments in support for President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

“(Dearman) 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,” Fehr wrote.

Fehr said Dearman made the comments after Gow sent a campus-wide email in February, describing the university’s response to Trump’s ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. In the email, Gow stressed inclusion, respect and safety.

In an initial email sent in January, Gow said he was “shocked and saddened” by Trump’s ban, but backed away from the statement and apologized in the February email.

“This young lady that was a coworker was of Chinese descent and was concerned about immigrants from China, which really has nothing to do with the Trump travel ban or Chancellor Gow’s discussion and certainly not my client’s discussion,” Fehr said.

Gow said the fact the student employee was of Asian descent made the situation even more troubling.

Dearman has not decided whether she will return to UW-La Crosse, Fehr said.

Republican state Sen. Duey Stroebl asked system officials Thursday to review the case. System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says system attorneys already have reviewed the case, according to AP.