Thursday, October 18, 2007
Three Former Professors Sue Ave Maria Law School, the School's Founder (Tom Monaghan) and Dean (Bernard Dobranski)
Here is a statement about the case from their attorney, Deborah Gordon:
Three professors from Tom Monaghan's Ave Maria School of Law filed a multi-part complaint against Thomas Monaghan, Bernard Dobranski and associated entities in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on Oct. 17. Monaghan serves as Chair of the Board of Governors and Dobranski is the President and Dean.
The three professors claim that they were removed from their positions in retaliation for their having reported illegal conduct by Monaghan and Dobranski to law enforcement and other governmental agencies, and for refusing to go along with Monaghan's attempts to improperly control the Board by permitting his private, conflicting interests to supersede the best interests of the law school, including his attempt to re-locate the school from Ann Arbor to property Monaghan owns and desires to develop in "Ave Maria Town" Florida. Monaghan has claimed that the Virgin Mary personally directed him to develop Ave Maria Town and Ave Maria University in Southwest Florida.
A faculty vote against the planned move in September 2006 and a vote of "no confidence" in Dean Dobranski in April 2006 have not deterred the illegal, improper activity.
Two of these professors were denied tenure by Dobranski even though they received the unanimous support of the tenured faculty. Tenured Professor Safranek was ejected from the building and his salary and benefits terminated. Dobranski and Monaghan did not even grant him a hearing. The suit alleges Professor Safranek has been subjected to false smears as part of the retaliation effort.
The suit also alleges that certain staff used their positions and law school resources to obstruct a criminal investigation into a priest's alleged involvement in sex offenses, including possession of child pornography, and that Professor Safranek reported this to law enforcement.
This lawsuit is the latest debacle in the collapse of Ave Maria School of Law. This past summer nearly 1/2 of the faculty fled or were removed from the school. Approximately 40 first year students transferred to other law schools (out of a class of 135), and the quality of the incoming class continued to decline. Dobranski was forced to hire a slew visitation professors and adjuncts to keep the school afloat.
The complaint, filed yesterday (but not yet served), is here: Download safranek_complaint.pdf . Things are going from bad to worse for Ave Maria.