(CN) – A theater professor was improperly suspended by his university, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled, despite complaints that he brandished a knife in class, expressed a desire to “kill” people, and made derogatory comments to minorities, gay students and women.
Perry Mills has taught at Western Washington University for more than 20 years. Complaints began to surface after he was granted tenure in 1994.
Department chair Mark Kuntz admonished Mills for his behavior, which included calling a male student “Precious” in a lilting tone and referring to a female student as a “400-pound canary.”
Mills also greeted a new female professor by saying “she had better keep those legs closed, because she could not be expected to teach students the same way she got her doctorate.”
Mills was suspended for two semesters without pay, and the lower court denied him relief. However, on appeal, Judge Dwyer ruled that he was entitled to a new hearing.
“The university did not deny Mills’ free-speech rights,” Dwyer wrote. “However, the university violated the Administrative Procedure Act by conducting Mills’ disciplinary hearing in secret.”
Dwyer vacated the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case for a new hearing.