Man sues Brainerd college over Facebook comments

BRAINERD, Minn. — A nursing student has filed a federal lawsuit against officials at Brainerd’s Central Lakes College, alleging that he was wrongly expelled over comments he posted on Facebook.

Craig Keefe, 37, of Gull Lake, filed the suit in U.S. District Court naming the school’s president Larry Lundblad as well a vice president, a dean, the head of the nursing program and the chief executive of the state’s college system.

Keefe wants to be reinstated to his nursing program as well as damages from the defendants, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Keefe’s attorney, Jordan Kushner, said school officials never gave the Keefe a specific explanation for his expulsion in December and violated the college’s rules by denying him an appeal. Keefe was a semester away from finishing his studies to be a registered nurse.

“I get a lot of calls about a lot of civil rights issues, and this one jumped out at me,” said Kushner. “There’s just such a huge, glaring absence of due process and a violation of his free-speech rights. It seems obvious that Facebook is his business.”

Michael Dougherty, a vice chancellor at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“The College’s legal response will be filed by the Attorney General’s Office with the federal district court,” he wrote Monday in an email.

The suit claims school officials complained to Keefe over two Facebook posts. One allegedly used a derogatory term and the other was “a comment about there not being enough whiskey for anger management.”

But Kushner said administrators never showed the offending posts to Keefe, nor did they tell him specifically what he is alleged to have done wrong.

“He really doesn’t know. That’s a big basis for the lawsuit,” Kushner said. “It’s a public institution. You’re entitled to due process before any type of significant action is taken against you. You deserve to know what the charges are and the chance to be heard.”

Central Lakes College has about 6,000 students, and Keefe had been a student there for 3 1/2 years. He is a licensed practical nurse and was enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing Program to become a registered nurse.

Kushner said Central Lake’s nursing program isn’t accredited so Keefe can’t transfer his credits to another school to finish his studies and become a registered nurse.

“Unless we get the court to order him back in, that degree is shot,” he said. “All the time spent on it is lost.”

Mower County

In Your Community: Wolfe siblings get together to celebrate milestones

Mower County

In Your Community: 2024 Music Hall of Fame inductees honored

News

Canadian wildfire smoke chokes Upper Midwest for second straight year

Mower County

Archaeology in Mower County: Beyond the quarry

Mower County

Ikes fundraiser Wednesday night

Education

Rochester Public Schools move to formalize procedure for helping transgender kids

News

Psychosis care model gives new hope to young patients

News

Proposed Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment draws rival crowds to Capitol for crucial votes

Austin Packers

APS Board gets update on plan to add boys volleyball

Mower County

Legislature prepares to go down to the wire as Minnesota session wraps up

Mower County

Skilled Nursing Care Week: Nurses thrive with in a family atmosphere

Mower County

Public invited to walk for mental health

Education

Riverland graduation: stories of hope and resilience

Blooming Prairie

To be celebrated: Zumbro Education District holds Activity Day for special education students

News

Minnesota readies for its flag switch as old banner comes down

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: April 29 to May 6

News

Bob Ross’ legacy lives on in new ‘The Joy of Painting’ series

News

Judge directs Michael Cohen to keep quiet about Trump ahead of his hush money trial testimony

News

Prepare for another summer of air quality alerts, but less than 2023

Mower County

In Your Community: Mower County Senior Center

Mower County

St. Mark’s to host seminar on downsizing

Mower County

31st annual Stamp Out Hunger drive this Saturday

Education

Riverland Music student qualifies for national competition

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

18-year-old from Lyle charged with 15 felonies, 14 related to child pornography