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Kent State professor's employment 'unchanged'

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 18:28:37-05

A spokesman for Kent State told newsnet5.com that there's been “no change” to the employment status of Julio Pino, the associate professor under investigation by the FBI for alleged ties to ISIS. 

Experts in the field of higher education tell newsnet5.com that Pino’s status as a tenured professor is helping to secure his job during this period of investigation. 

“The purpose of tenure is to protect academic freedom,” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the American Association of University Professors. 

Julio Pino told newsnet5.com that in the past he has expressed his academic freedom by standing up “for those who need protection,” namely the Palestinians. 

newsnet5.com covered an incident in 2011 when Pino was seen and heard shouting “Death to Israel” at a campus speech of an Israeli diplomat.

In 2002, newnet5.com also covered the backlash to a campus newspaper column Pino wrote praising a Palestinian suicide bomber. 

“Somebody has to speak out and I guess I’ve stepped up to the plate on a couple of occasions,” Pino said outside his home on Thursday morning. 

Mark Smith of the National Education Association explained that tenure allows professors to “explore research leads” without fear of retaliation. 

But both the NEA and AAUP acknowledged that certain actions cross the line and tenure is not a lifetime job guarantee. 

Fichtenbaum said grounds for dismissal generally include immoral behavior, neglect of duty, general incompetence and ethical misconduct. 

The AAUP Kent State Chapter serves as the collective bargaining agent for full-time faculty at Kent State University. 

The KSU contract doesn’t lay out the specifics for termination. 

Article VII Sanctions for Cause states that “the University retains the rights to apply sanctions to members of the bargaining unit, up to and including termination of the employment relationship.” 

The document says a sanction is “a documented corrective action in response to a Faculty member’s unsatisfactory performance of his/her duties and responsibilities.” 

No charges had been filed against Pino.; he is still under investigation. 

Kent State declined to comment on the future of his employment with the university. 

“As this is an ongoing investigation, it is not prudent to speak further about the case,” a statement released Wednesday said, in part. 

Fichtenbaum stressed that Pino is innocent until proven guilty, and meanwhile tenure is protecting his job.  

“And if it turns out there’s no crime and people just happen to be upset with something that he said, then yes the purpose of tenure is to protect that,” Fichtenbaum said. 

Pino said Thursday he has no intention of stepping down. 

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