Kent State University has no plans to remove an instructor and former campus police official from the classroom after his conviction on felony weapon and drug possession charges.
Daniel FitzPatrick, 57, of Paris, was sentenced Jan. 28 by Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow to enter a drug treatment program after pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony, possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony and operating a vehicle under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor. The drug treatment sentence vacates his guilty pleas, and the felony convictions will be dismissed if he completes the one-year program.
KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield issued a statement Wednesday that said although the university does not condone FitzPatrick's behavior, "we accept the court's recommendation of treatment in lieu of conviction."
He said KSU employee policies, which in part state, "...to be involved in the possession, use, distribution of and sale of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited," are designed to address on-campus employee conduct in the course of their duties.
"Mr. FitzPatrick's actions took place off campus and did not involve his employment with the university," Mansfield said. "He has acknowledged his mistakes in open court and accepted an agreement to attend treatment and monitoring under the court's supervision."
KSU's online employee resource manual states that "the university does not tolerate certain acts and behaviors which are unproductive and detrimental to the university." The manual lists behaviors that the university does not tolerate, which include immoral conduct, violation of any KSU policy or work rule and conviction of a felony.
FitzPatrick began his police career at the KSU Police Department in 1978. He rose to the rank of assistant chief before his retirement in 2008, and began teaching criminal justice studies before his retirement from the campus police force.
FitzPatrick's pleas stem from a Dec. 25, 2011 traffic stop in which a Ohio Highway Patrol officer found a loaded 9 mm gun and a recently outlawed synthetic drug known as bath salts. A blood test found traces marijuana in his system, according to court records.
Public documents from KSU show that FitzPatrick's reappointment to part-time instructor was offered twice by Sociology Department chairman and professor Richard Serpe since the incident -- on Aug. 3, 2012 and Dec. 5, 2012. FitzPatrick is teaching two classes this semester. A request for correspondence and disciplinary matters regarding FitzPatrick since the Dec. 2011 incident yielded no results.
"Mr. FitzPatrick's performance as an instructor has not been affected by these activities, and his student evaluations remain good," Mansfield said. "As such, Mr. FitzPatrick remains an adjunct for the spring semester."
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or email@example.com