Becoming a tenured professor at an HBCU is the dream of many Black college educators. It generally means that you can only be fired for violating a school morality clause or engaging in a felony. For Dr. Edward Jones, who has worked at Alabama A&M University for 20 years, a violation has now cost him his job. Jones was fired from AAMU after Huntsville, Alabama, police and Alabama A&M police served a search warrant on his home and discovered a school laptop. When the laptop was examined, police found video of Jones engaging in sex acts with students.
Police have stated that three videos were recovered, two of which show Jones having oral sex with two male students. When the videos were discovered, Jones was informed that he would be terminated. A March 10, 2016 termination letter from AAMU Provost Daniel Wims states, “There is convincing evidence that you have engaged in sexual conduct below minimum standards of professional integrity and misused university computing/electronic assets in gross violation of well-established university policy.”
Jones, however, feels that the termination is in retaliation for a federal lawsuit he filed against the school where he invokes the Alabama Public Employee Whistleblower Act. It is his claim that the school engaged in fiscal mismanagement and charged students for services they did not receive. He also states in the lawsuit that when he made the school aware of these issues, he was harassed and told to play ball and keep his mouth shut. An excerpt from the 30-page lawsuit states, “Dr. Jones’ whistleblower speech and signed statement regarding AAMU’s illegal conduct in charging students for services it did not provide and mismanaging federal and state funds designed to implement teacher certification information management system was met with a retaliatory attempt to terminate him, prosecute him and humiliate and ruin Dr. Jones’ reputation.”
Alabama A&M denied the allegations in the lawsuit and issued a statement in its defense that reads, “As is plainly evident by the university’s filings, the university is fully committed to defending its decision to terminate this professor. The supporting evidence of the professor’s misconduct, which occurred on campus, is clearly identified in the university’s response and the recent discovery of this evidence left the university with no alternative. The inappropriate conduct exhibited by this former faculty member will not be tolerated on this campus.”