A D.C. Superior Court jury has awarded $113,000 in damages to a former Howard University dean who sued the school after he was fired from his teaching position for alleged misconduct.
Dr. Joseph T. Durham, tr. who was dean of the shcool of education and a tenured professor, contended that his case should have been brought to the school's faculty grievence committee for a hearing before he was removed from his job.
Judge Dyer Justice Taylor accepted the jury verdict yesterday. The panel of five women and one man deliberated about 2 1/2 days before it made the award for wages Durham lost as a result on his termination as a professor, according to his lawyer, John A. Keats.
Durham who denied any misconduct, argued that even if the allegations were true, the university's failure to grant him a hearing constituted a breach of his employment contract, Keats said.
Dorsey E. Lane, who represented the university, was unavailable for comment. Court records indicate, however, that the school contended that Durham had not disputed the firing decision and thus, under rules set out in the faculty handbook, the administration had no obligation to refer the matter to the grievance committee.
According to court records, Durham, who lives in Silver Spring, was appointed a tenured professor of education and named daean of the education school in November 1971. Durham earned $33,800 a year when he was dismissed from both his deanship and his teaching position in January 1975, Keats said.
The dismissal followed a report to Howard's president, James Cheeck, about an alleged incident involving Durham and a male student in a men's lavatory on the university campus, according to court records. At the trial, Durham denied, under oath, that any misconduct occurred, Keats said.
Following the report, Durham submitted his resignation from the deanship to Cheek, but Keats argued. Durham wanted to retain his job as a professor. In January 1975, Durham was informed by letter that he had been dismissed from both posts, Keats said.
In court records, Cheek contended that Durham did not respond to the termination letter, and said Durham was informed that the basis for his dismissal warranted his termination from both jobs.
Keats said however that since the matter was unresolved between Cheek and Durham, the case should have been forwarded to the faculty grievance committee.