Former osteopathic school president sues school Board of Governors, others for violations

By Kyla Asbury | May 28, 2010


CHARLESTON -- The former president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is suing the school's Board of Governors for violating his First Amendment rights and the West Virginia Whistleblower Act.

The school's board of governors, the state Higher Education Policy Commission and all of the Board of Governors board members were also named as defendants in the suit.

Dr. Richard Rafes was removed from his position as president on April 10 and replaced by Dr. Michael Adelman as the acting president, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Rafes claims he tried to put a stop to unlawful activities and waste at the school before he was removed from his position. He claims he was retaliated against for his efforts to report unlawful activities and waste to the school, which was in violation of the West Virginia Whistleblower Act.

Board of Governors member Kendall Wilson allegedly interfered with an official investigation of a student who had falsified a federal government record, according to the suit. Rafes also claims BOG member Sue Holvey tried to revise the school's bidding process to help an acquaintance gain a contract.

Rafes claims the defendants violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and free association by sending out an e-mail to all school employees that prohibited them from communicating with him.

As a result of the defendant's negligence, Rafes suffered severe emotional distress, his reputation was permanently injured and he will be unable to gain comparable employment as president of a respected college or university, according to the suit.

Rafes is seeking a preliminary injunction to reinstate him as president and compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Bill Robinson.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

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