A former administrator at Chicago State University has accused its president and other officials of firing her in part because she refused their demands that she file a false sexual-harassment charge against a faculty member critical of the leadership.
LaShondra Peebles, who was fired last June as interim vice president for enrollment and student affairs, said in court filings that other administrators, including Wayne D. Watson, the president, had pressured her to file the charge against Phillip A. Beverly, an associate professor of political science. Ms. Peebles said the other administrators had hoped to use false charges against Mr. Beverly to justify his dismissal and to shut down a blog in which he and other faculty members routinely published criticisms of Mr. Watson and other top officials at Chicago State.
Administrators pressured her at several meetings to file the false charge and accused her of “not being a ‘team player’” when she refused, Ms. Peebles said in a sworn statement submitted in federal court on Thursday. The statement was made in connection with a lawsuit in which Mr. Beverly and another faculty member have accused Mr. Watson and two university lawyers of violating their free-speech rights.
Ms. Peebles has leveled the same claim of pressure to file a false charge as part of her own lawsuit in state court challenging her dismissal as a violation of her own free-speech rights.
In reporting on Thursday about Ms. Peebles’s sworn declaration, the Chicago Tribune quoted Thomas Wogan, a university spokesman, as saying that “this document has zero credibility and is completely false.” The newspaper said Mr. Wogan had dismissed Ms. Peebles’s statement as “the allegations of a terminated employee” and had characterized Mr. Beverly’s lawsuit as frivolous.
The new accusations against Chicago State officials are the latest development in a lengthy battle of faculty leaders against top administrators and the Board of Trustees. Mr. Watson announced in February that he planned to retire as president next year.