At 50,000 thousands students every year (many non-degree-seeking), Johnson County Community College is the largest in Kansas and among the largest in the Midwest.
They don’t care much for any law, state or federal. Just since 2005, the college has been guilty of violating the state open meetings law, the state open records law, the federal First Amendment, there has been at least one likely illegal firing, a president who is still on the taxpayer-funded college foundation (which receives several hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year) was guilty of the sexual molestation of multiple women (according to four women), and there have been related cover-ups which quite likely were criminal. All of this has cost the college — no, the taxpayers — millions in wasted tax dollars.
In the middle of all of this is a no-bid legal contract given to an unethical lawyer named Mark Ferguson, who is in the law firm of state Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates. He’s both dishonest and incompetent. Ferguson clearly does not know the law, or else he would not have embarrassed himself and the entire seven-member, elected Board of Trustees and argued in front of a federal judge that it was legal for the college to suddenly expel four nursing students, after one of the students posted (and later removed upon request) a picture of a placenta. A college teacher gave permission to the students to take the photo.
It was not legal. It was clearly illegal. A federal judge made it abundantly clear on Thursday. According to The Kansas City Star:
The judge on Thursday shot down every argument, legal and otherwise, that Johnson County Community College had used to justify its ousting of Byrnes last fall, preventing her from graduating on schedule in May.
In part, the judge found that:
— “Photos are taken to be viewed, and if the students were given permission to photograph the placenta, it became irrelevant what they did with the pictures.”
— “Byrnes was not allowed a fair hearing on her dismissal.”
Terry Calaway’s arrogant, unrepentant response, again from The Star:
In a statement later, Calaway said the college was disappointed by the ruling… We took what we believed to be appropriate action, but the court saw the situation differently.”
The director of the nursing program is Jeanne Walsh, whom former Governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed to the state nursing board.
KMBC-ABC Channel 9 has a video story on JCCC’s illegal behavior.
Fox 4 also has a video story on the federal judge’s actions.
Other related articles:
– KMBC Channel 9, “Students Who Posted Placenta Photo Reinstated“
– MSNBC/Associated Press: “Student who posted placenta picture reinstated”
– Bloomberg/Associated Press: “Kan. students who posted placenta photo reinstated”
– Forbes blog: “Update: Taking a Photo with a Placenta Won’t Get You Kicked Out of Nursing School”
– The Pitch: “Doyle “Placenta Pic” Byrnes gets to go back to JCCC nursing school”
– KCTV/CBS Channel 5: “JCCC Student Who Posted Placenta Pic Reinstated”
Meet the six people most responsible for the corruption and incompetence at the Overland Park-based community college:
Lynn Mitchelson (above), ex-banker from Mission Woods and former chair of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Terry Calaway, JCCC President and one of the current leaders of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Don Weiss, an administrator at DeVry University. Supporter of and endorsed by the left-wing “Mainstream Coalition,” which sent spies into area Christian churches in 2005.
Jon Stewart, ex-CEO of Metcalf Bank, protege of Lynn Mitchelson
Melody Rayl: Lawyer who does not know the law, former police officer who covered up crimes at JCCC, and former college professor who opposes academic freedom. Violated JCCC Board Code of Conduct while HR committee co-chair to secretly pass domestic partnership benefits for college employees; openly gay.
Mark Ferguson, lawyer extraordinaire. According to his Web site:
– Overland Park Chamber of Commerce Political Education Institute, Graduate;
– Leadership Overland Park (Part of OP Chamber of Commerce), 1995; Co-Chair and Selection Committee Chair, 1996, 1997
-Appointed by Kansas Governor as part-time Special Administrative Law Judge, Division of Workers’ Compensation, 1995-2003
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).