The public may never know specifics about why tenured professor Otis B. Grant was fired in late 2011 from Indiana University South Bend.
Indiana University isn't required to release any additional details about Grant's dismissal, according to an informal opinion issued this week by Indiana's public access counselor.
Indiana's access to public records law doesn't require disclosure of a detailed narrative of events leading to a suspension or termination of a public employee, according to the written opinion by Joseph B. Hoage, an attorney who serves as the state's public access counselor.
When IU attorneys declined to provide specific details about why Grant was fired, The Tribune filed a request with the public access counselor asking for an informal opinion about whether additional details must be released under the law.
Grant was dismissed for engaging in "serious personal and professional misconduct," IU officials stated in February in response to a Tribune public records request. Grant's last day of employment was Dec. 31, 2011.
"The finding of misconduct was primarily based on representations he made at the time of his hiring and subsequently during his tenure at Indiana University," stated IU's written response.
Hoage wrote that he is unaware of any Indiana case law that has addressed or defined what specific types of information must be provided by a public agency in such matters.
"... without a more specific instruction from the General Assembly regarding what is required to be provided in the factual basis, it will remain difficult for agencies to determine whether they have satisfied their disclosure obligations under the APRA, and also for members of the public (and this office) to recognize when agencies' responses are noncompliant," Hoage wrote.
Tribune efforts to reach Grant for an interview have been unsuccessful.
Grant is appealing his dismissal to the IUSB faculty board of review. The members of the review board for 2011-2012 are: chair Jannette "Joy" Alexander, education professor; Joe Chaney, English professor; Yi Cheng, mathematics professor; Rosanne Cordell, librarian; and Michael Lasaster, arts professor.
If the board affirms the dismissal, Grant could appeal the matter to IU's board of trustees and president.
Grant was sanctioned by IUSB four years ago after complaints by students and an investigation into his professional conduct. Some students in 2008 alleged the professor used foul language in class, canceled classes and dismissed two students from a course without due process. Grant also was accused of allowing a nonemployee to grade student work and access student academic records, a potential violation of federal privacy laws.
Grant was a tenured associate professor of law and society in IUSB's department of sociology and anthropology, earning $53,954 per year from the university.