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Ex-ISU professor set to wage legal fight

| December 27, 2010 8:00 PM

BOISE (AP) - A former Idaho State University professor challenging the dismissal of his lawsuit against the school has collected more than $70,000 from education groups to continue his legal fight.

Former civil engineering professor Habib Sadid filed the lawsuit two years ago, saying his right to free speech was violated. Sadid also claims he suffered breach of contract, defamation and the school retaliated against him for his public comments criticizing administration policies.

Sixth District Judge David Nye dismissed the lawsuit in December 2009, saying that Sadid's speech wasn't protected because he was an employee and it amounted to airing personal grievances.

Sadid, who was at ISU for 22 years, is appealing his case to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Education groups had kicked in $72,400 for Sadid's defense as of late December, said Idaho Federation of Teachers President Nick Gier, whose organization has contributed a third of the total amount.

The national arm of his organization, The American Federation of Teachers, has donated nearly $40,000 so far.

Sadid was suspended with pay in August 2009 for what administrators called unprofessional and insubordinate behavior. At the time of his suspension, Sadid argued that his history of speaking his mind about problems at the eastern Idaho school led to the disciplinary action.

Idaho State officials countered that free speech rights did not allow him to make slanderous statements awhile engaging in official university duties and call others "liars," ''corrupt" and "incompetent."

Sadid's employment was terminated in October 2009 by Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas, who said his decision was in the best interests of the institution.

A university faculty appeals board previously said there wasn't enough evidence to fire Sadid, but Vailas was not obligated to follow that recommendation.

Richard Jacobsen, dean of the College of Engineering, has recommended Sadid be fired.

"What is really significant is nearly everyone in his department of engineering supported him," Gier said.

Sadid's lawsuit did not address his employment status.