DACC professor says he's being retaliated against for speaking up

POSTED: 10:19 PM MDT Jul 22, 2013    UPDATED: 09:43 AM MDT Jul 21, 2014 
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A part-time Dona Ana Community College professor told ABC-7 he's been fired for speaking up.

Earl Nissen said it all goes back to the school's accreditation scandal last year.

Nissen taught at DACC for 14 years. He said he's being punished for doing what he loved: helping the students.

"They did not appreciate the honesty that we gave the whole situation. I think I was retaliated against for that," Nissen said.

Nissen said he used to teach three classes a semester. After he started speaking up, he said it dropped to one. Last week, Nissen was told not to come back next year.

"They said, 'Dona Ana Community College has decided not to invite you back to teach any classes.' I said, 'For what reason?' She said, 'Well, you had many non-compliances, like you disrupted the nursing program by how you counseled students,'" Nissen said.

Last fall, DACC abruptly announced the nursing program had lost its national accreditation. More than 100 students were left wondering what that meant for their futures.

"They were asking questions. 'Well, should we stay here at DACC? What should we do?' So I explained accreditation to them. This could affect what kind of job they could get one day," Nissen told ABC-7.

Nissen said he worked with New Mexico State University to find a solution for them: scholarships to transfer to NMSU's accredited program.

Students said that kind of dedication is necessary.

"If my professors hadn't counseled me or advised me I wouldn't still be here. There was a time I was ready to give up completely and my adviser gave me hope," said DACC student Jennifer Kitcey.

"I really feel sad about not being with the students. That's why I was there," Nissen said.

A spokeswoman for DACC said she could not talk about personnel issues.

Nissen said he is looking into his legal options to fight this.