Court: LHU professor must be reinstated

From Pennlive

LOCK HAVEN — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has refused to hear Lock Haven University’s appeal of a lower court’s order requiring it to rehire a professor who was fired over a 28-year-old conviction for molesting two children.

That means the order to reinstate mathematics Prof. Charles Morgan that was issued by Commonwealth Court in August must stand.

The Commonwealth Court decision upheld an earlier arbitration ruling favoring Morgan’s reinstatement. The arbitration ruling was won on Morgan’s behalf by the Association of State College and University Faculties, the professors’ union.

The Pennnsylvania State System of Higher Education backed Lock Haven’s attempt to keep Morgan out of the classroom.

Morgan was hired by Lock Haven in 2004 and was promoted to full professor in 2009. His criminal record was discovered in 2016 after the state universities secured court permission to require professors who teach minors to undergo criminal background checks.

In Morgan’s case, an FBI report showed that in 1989, when he was 19, he was charged with sexually assaulting two minors in Kentucky. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but reduced his jail time by completing voluntary sex offender therapy.

The Centre County resident didn’t have to report his conviction when he applied for a job at Lock Haven because the employment application only asked whether he had pending criminal charges or had been convicted of a crime in the past decade.

In ordering Morgan’s reinstatement, the arbitrator found “the preponderance of evidence showed (his) youthful criminal acts had not followed him into middle age.”

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Lock Haven’s appeal doesn’t end the dispute over Morgan’s termination. A civil rights lawsuit Morgan filed against the university and the state system in U.S. Middle District Court in 2017 remains active.

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