Two Collin College professors are fighting to keep their jobs after they say the school terminated their contracts for challenging the administration’s COVID-19 response.
Dr. Suzanne Jones and Audra Heaslip said they were notified last week their contracts would not be renewed at the end of the semester in May.
Both are members of the college’s faculty council and said they helped bring concerns regarding the school’s response to the pandemic to the administration over the last year.
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“I would give [the college] a failing grade unfortunately,” said Heaslip.
Heaslip, who started teaching at Collin in 2006, said the administration was slow to enforce mask-wearing, resisted initially to moving some classes online and was reluctant to establish a COVID-19 dashboard to keep track of positive coronavirus cases tied to campus.
In November, faculty member and registered nurse Iris Meda died from COVID-19 shortly after she started teaching at Collin College. The 70-year-old came out of retirement because she wanted to train future nurses during the pandemic.
Jones and Heaslip said the school eventually revised some policies after one-third of the faculty signed on to a resolution calling for change.
“Everything we got is what we pushed for,” said Dr. Suzanne Jones, who started on staff in 2001 and teaches education courses.
Now, they believe they are being terminated for speaking out.
“It was retaliatory,” Heaslip said. “The only reason we’re speaking out is because we care about our colleagues, we care about our students getting the best of our colleagues.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Collin College said, “In consideration of our employees’ privacy, the college will not publicly comment on internal personnel matters.”
Jones and Heaslip also recently helped launch the Collin College chapter of the Texas Faculty Association, an organization that advocates for faculty rights and free speech.
Jones said she believes that also factored into the administration’s decision to terminate her contract.
“They feel threatened by, I guess, a group coming together to advocate for faculty safety,” said Jones.”
Both educators plan to appeal their termination.